An off-line solid-phase extraction procedure followed by High-performance Liquid Chromatography with Ultraviolet detection for the determination of 16 priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons pollutants in aqueous matrices was described. Diverse aspects determining extraction efficiency such as packing type (disk or cartridge); elution solvents and addition of organic modifiers to the sample were evaluated. Elution with acetonitrile yields the highest recoveries. Rinsing the sample bottle with acetonitrile and combining the rinse with the sample extract avoids the adsorption of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on the walls of the water containers. The use of isopropanol or methanol 10% (V/V) was the most appropriate amount for the enrichment of 2-6 ring aromatic compounds only on C18 cartridge.
The recoveries for all studied polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are ranged from 71.4 to 95.2% for a treated water samples of 500 mL. The proposed method gives very low detection limits (subnanograms per liter) and it has been applied to drinking water, surface water and industrial effluent (oil refinery) samples with good results.