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Petroleum products contain a complex mixture of aliphatic and aromatic components. The composition of hydrocarbons varies depending on the source, e.g. crude oil versus refined products. Not all components pose the same amount of health risk. Particularly the amount of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) needs to be determined accurately.
In order to properly separate both aliphatic and aromatic fractions, a pre-fractionation with silica gel is carried out. The manual method is tedious and requires a very good
technique to obtain good recovery for the volatile PAH.