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Extraction of Soils, Clays, Sediments, Sludge and Waste (EPA 3546)

The method EPA 3546 describes a procedure for extracting water-insoluble or slightly watersoluble organic compounds from soils, clays, sediments, sludge and solid wastes.

The procedure uses microwave energy to produce elevated temperature and pressure conditions in a closed vessel containing the sample and organic solvents to achieve analyte recoveries equivalent to those from Soxhlet extraction, using less solvent and taking significantly less time than the Soxhlet procedure.

For EPA, a solvent mixture of acetone and hexane in equal shares is used. Hexane is a water-immiscible solvent while acetone is water-miscible. The purpose of the water-miscible solvent is to facilitate the extraction of wet solids by allowing the mixed solvent to penetrate the layer of water on the surface of the solid particles. The polarity of acetone may also help to extract polar analytes in mixed solvent systems. The water-immiscible solvent extracts organic compounds with similar polarities.

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