Report No DWI0381

Nov 1987


The purpose of this work has been to provide the Water Industry with a cheap method of identifying unknown organic compounds in the aquatic environment. Pollution incidents frequently occur in which it is necessary to identify an organic compound accidentally or illegally discharged into the water catchment. Analytical instrumentation normally applied to the identification of organic compounds is relatively expensive and usually beyond the means of Water Utility Laboratories. A relatively cheap technique based on gas chromatographic retention times has been successfully developed.

Gas chromatography is a separation technique the mechanism of which depends upon the differing affinities of the organic compounds in a mixture for the stationary phase of the gas chromatographic column. Thus different components of the mixture are retained on the column for different periods of time. If chromatographic separation conditions can be precisely standardised and the retention time of a component be measured with sufficient accuracy, the data may be used to give a precise identification of the component. This report contains new relevant retention data collected from the literature during the past year. It has been appended to Tables III and IV of the First Edition and these are now published in full as Tables I and II.

Water authorities and others are encouraged to generate further data on organic compounds of concern for incorporation into the data base. WRc will continue to generate new data on compounds of concern as and when the occasion demands as well as to collate suitable data from the literature.

Copies of this report may be available as an Acrobat pdf download under the 'Pre 2000 Reports' heading on the DWI website.