Frequent Questions

Is there an official EPA definition of a volatile compound and a semivolatile compound?

SW-846 does not contain formal definitions for volatiles or semivolatiles and there is no "official" definition of volatile or semivolatile compounds that can be used across all EPA programs. 

Some compounds can even be considered either a volatile or a semivolatile depending on the analytical technique used (i.e., naphthalene, nitrobenzene, dichlorobenzene, hexachloroethane). Generally speaking, volatiles have been defined elsewhere as compounds with boiling points below 150°C and vapor pressures of greater than 0.1 mm Hg. However, such definitions are not hard and fast, and should only be considered descriptive of a general trend. In fact, Method 8260B [PDF File, 443 KB] contains a few compounds that are exceptions to this definition.
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