Identification of refined petroleum products in contaminated soils using an identification index for GC chromatograms

Dongwook Kwon, Myoung Soo Ko, Jung Seok Yang, Man Jae Kwon, Seung Woo Lee, Seunghak Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Hydrocarbons found in the environment are typically characterized by gas chromatography (GC). The shape of the GC chromatogram has been used to identify the source of petroleum contamination. However, the conventional practice of simply comparing the peak patterns of source products to those of environmental samples is dependent on the subjective decisions of individual analysts. We have developed and verified a quantitative analytical method for interpreting GC chromatograms to distinguish refined petroleum products in contaminated soils. We found that chromatograms for gasoline, kerosene, and diesel could be divided into three ranges with boundaries at C6, C8, C16, and C26. In addition, the relative peak area (RPAGC) of each range, a dimensionless ratio of the peak area within each range to that of the total range (C6–C26), had a unique value for each petroleum product. An identification index for GC chromatograms (IDGC), defined as the ratio of RPAGC of C8–C16 to that of C16–C26, was able to identify diesel and kerosene sources in samples extracted from artificially contaminated soils even after weathering. Thus, the IDGC can be used to effectively distinguish between refined petroleum products in contaminated soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12029-12034
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Aug 27

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support for this study was provided by the Geo-Advanced Innovative Action (GAIA) Project (no. 2013000540002) of the Ministry of Environment, Korea.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Environmental forensics
  • Gas chromatography
  • Petroleum
  • Soil contamination
  • Source identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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