The organic carbon fraction in aquifer materials exerts a major influence on the subsurface mobilities of organic and organic-associated contaminants. The spatial distribution of total organic carbon (TOC) in aquifer materials must be determined before the transport of hydrophobic organic pollutants in aquifers can be modeled accurately. Previous interlaboratory studies showed that it is difficult to measure TOC concentrations <0.1% in aquifer materials, when total inorganic carbon (TIC) concentrations are >1%. We have tested a new analytical method designed to improve the accuracy and precision of nonvolatile TOC quantitation in geologic materials that also contain carbonate minerals. Four authentic aquifer materials and one NIST standard reference material were selected as test materials for a blind collaborative study. Nonvolatile TOC in these materials ranged from 0.05 to 1.4%, while TIC ranged from 0.46 to 12.6%. Sample replicates were digested with sulfurous acid, dried at 40??C, and then combusted at 950??C using LECO or UIC instruments. For the three test materials that contained >2% TIC, incomplete acidification resulted in a systematic positive bias of TOC values reported by five of the six laboratories that used the test method. Participants did not have enough time to become proficient with the new method before they analyzed the test materials. A seventh laboratory successfully used an alternative method that analyzed separate liquid and solid fractions of the acidified sample residues. ?? 1995 Springer-Verlag.
Additional publication details
Interlaboratory study of a method for determining nonvolatile organic carbon in aquifer materials