Steam Distillation

L. Ramos, Free University, Amsterdam,

The Netherlands

Copyright © 2000 Academic Press

Sample preparation is nowadays the limiting step in the trace analysis of organic pollutants in environmental and biological samples. Looking forward to the laboratory of the future, versatile and universal sample enrichment techniques are required, which can produce fast and valid data, with low costs in terms of solvent consumption and operator involvement. A selectivity higher than that of the classical exhaustive extraction methods or the simultaneous elimination of the interference material could be an additional requirement, as it would reduce the amount of solvents and adsorbents used by reducing or eliminating the subsequent clean-up step. Possible additional benefits deriving from a low manual manipulation of the samples would be a reduction in the risk of contamination and loss of the analytes, as well as an easier automation of the process.

Steam distillation extraction-solvent extraction (SDE) has been presented as such a universal sample enrichment technique. SDE allows the simultaneous extraction, clean-up and concentration of the target compounds in a closed system, with short analysis times (1-8 h) and by using small amounts of organic solvents (a few mL). This paper reviews this assumption for the case of the analysis of less volatile organic pollutants in environmental samples. The SDE advantages and shortcomings for such an analysis have been discussed.

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