Identifying the Source of PAHs

ESG is highly experienced in identifying PAH sources and comparing contamination

Identification of the source of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be important to ascertain if contamination has originated from site, or from external/historical sources.


The composition of the PAHs depends on its source and how it has been treated.


The three main sources of PAHs are:

Petrogenic – formed through slow, long term moderate temperatures (for example, fossil fuels, petroleum products)
Pyrogenic – formed through rapid, high temperature combustion (e.g. coal tars, combustion products)
Phytogenic – derived from plant sources


Identifying the Source of PAHs


ESG has a long history in the forensic analysis of sites, identifying PAH sources and comparing contamination by the use of double ratio plots and alkylated PAH distribution patterns.


By plotting the PAH ratios, such as Fluoranthene:Pyrene to Benzo(a)anthracene:Chrysene, the double ratio plot pattern of where these ratios cluster will help in identifying the source. These double ratio plots are also useful in comparing samples to ascertain if the sources are related.


For more information or advice on ESG’s PAH services, please call 0845 603 2112 or email


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