Page 6: Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality: Guideline Technical Document – Trichloroethylene

5.0 Analytical Methods

Several methods can be used to measure TCE in drinking water. Due to TCE's volatility, analytical methods for the chemical are based on purge and trap or head space gas chromatography using photoionization or mass spectrometric detection. TCE can also be captured by liquid-liquid extraction followed by gas chromatography with electrolytic conductivity detection.

Four methods for measuring TCE in drinking water have been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA Method 502.2, which employs purge and trap capillary gas chromatography with photoionization detectors and electrolytic conductivity detectors in series, has a detection limit in the range 0.01-3.0 µg/L (U.S. EPA, 1999b). EPA Method 524.2, which uses purge and trap capillary gas chromatography with mass spectrometric detectors in series, has a detection limit of 0.5 µg/L (U.S. EPA, 1999b). EPA Method 503.1 employs purge and trap capillary gas chromatography with photoionization conductivity detectors and has a detection limit of 0.01-3.0 µg/L (U.S. EPA, 1999b). EPA Method 551.1 uses liquid-liquid extraction and gas chromatography with electron capture detectors; this method has a method detection limit of 0.01 µg/L (U.S. EPA, 1999b).

For the determination of TCE in water, the practical quantitation limit (PQL) considered to be achievable by most good laboratories is 5 µg/L.

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