Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs)

Author: Dragan Krsta

At ADKL Labs a recent project was centred around emerging Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Exposure to POPs can lead to serious health effects and the analysis and monitoring of such substances is critical to ensuring a safe environment for us all. We found the topic very interesting and eye opening. Below we have some background information on this project focused on short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs).

In the past, SCCPs were mostly used as coolants in metalwork fluids, lubricants and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) processing systems. However, SCCPs are commonly found in many other products, including plasticizers and flame retardants in paints, adhesives, polymers, sealants and textiles.


Health and environmental impacts of SCCPs was recognised with their inclusion into the Stockholm Convention in 2017. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is a global treaty aiming to preserve human and environmental health from persistent chemical contaminants. SCCPs have demonstrated persistence, wide environmental mobility, bioaccumulation, biological toxicity and potential for carcinogenicity.

The most commonly applied technique for analysis of SCCPs in water, sediment, sludge and other matrixes remains gas chromatography-mass spectrometry with electron capture negative ionization (GC-ECNI-MS). Three standard methods have been published (listed below) in an effort to harmonize the international approach to SCCPs. The future of SCCP and chlorinated paraffin (e.g., medium and long chain chlorinated paraffins) analysis more widely is towards comprehensive gas chromatography techniques (GC × GC).


International Standards Organization (ISO) methods:
1.  ISO 12010:2019 — Determination of short-chain polychlorinated alkanes (SCCP) in water — Method using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and negative-ion chemical ionization (NCI)
2.  ISO 18635:2016 — Determination of short-chain polychlorinated alkanes (SCCPs) in sediment, sewage sludge and suspended (particulate) matter — Method using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and electron capture negative ionization (ECNI)
3.  ISO 18219:2015 — Determination of chlorinated hydrocarbons in leather — Chromatographic method for short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCP)Employing comprehensive gas chromatography enables the user to qualitatively identify groups of chlorinated paraffins by carbon chain length as well as chlorination level. Unfortunately, the processing and interpretation of such data becomes significantly more difficult to execute in a production environment. On the other hand, high resolution mass spectrometry, coupled with improved sample clean-up and better mathematical tools (e.g., multiple linear regression, PCA) can streamline the data interpretation and analysis. While this technology is more widely available than ever, costs related to hardware and expertise remain prohibitive. Analysis of SCCPs remains a difficult task.

The trend towards increased qualitative and quantitative analysis techniques aligns with the desire of governing bodies to perform informed risk management, source identification and prepare specific remediation plans. The implementation of comprehensive, multidimensional chromatography techniques is not a trivial exercise for any application. The process is particularly complicated for a production (routine) or testing lab where inhouse R&D can be very difficult to execute. ADKL Labs offers carefully tailored advice to ensure successful implementation of any project, focused on three key areas:

1.  Preserving budgets
2.  Upholding timelines
3.  Building confident users

Partnering with ADKL Labs ensures the project scope and outcomes are precisely matched to a configuration of hardware, software and user expertise. Confidence in the system robustness and performance is combined with a trained, confident user to maintain performance.

Please contact ADKL Labs​ if you would like to find out more about our method development and consulting services, as well as our training workshops.

Note: The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of ADKL Labs.

Prev post
Next post