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Journal of Chemistry
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 5178937, 13 pages
Review Article

Analytical Methods for the Determination of the Distribution of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons in the Water and Sediment of Aquatic Systems: A Review

1SAMRC Microbial Water Quality Monitoring Centre, University of Fort Hare, Alice 5700, South Africa
2Department of Chemistry, University of Fort Hare, Alice 5700, South Africa
3Applied and Environmental Microbiology Research Group, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of Fort Hare, Alice 5700, South Africa

Correspondence should be addressed to A. O. Adeniji

Received 6 February 2017; Accepted 2 April 2017; Published 16 April 2017

Academic Editor: Ana Moldes

Copyright © 2017 A. O. Adeniji et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Several methods of extraction and analytical determination for total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHCs) in aqueous and solid samples are reviewed. Infrared spectroscopy is one of the efficient methods that are being replaced today pursuant to getting rid of some halogenated solvents classified as ozone-depleting substances. The gravimetric method which uses n-hexane as an extraction solvent for the determination of oil and grease, as well as the nonpolar materials, has become a preferred choice, despite being not suitable for volatiles because of the mandatory evaporation step. Other frequently used methods include gas chromatography with a flame ionization detector (FID) or mass spectrometric detector (MSD) which has the capacity to reveal the type of hydrocarbons present and is applicable to both volatile and semivolatile samples. Ultraviolet fluorescence is another method that is available both as a portable field device and as off-site laboratory equipment. Each of the methods has its own advantages and disadvantages; hence, the choice of method is guided by the type of data needed as discussed in detail in this review. The distribution of TPHC in water and sediments across the globe and the factors influencing the distribution were also reviewed.