Hydrocarbons are organic compounds that are made of hydrogen and carbon atoms arranged in various structural configurations. Hydrocarbons are the primary constitute of oil, diesel fuel and gasoline.
WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
Hydrocarbons are used in various industrial applications and can contaminate natural waters through leaks in underground pipes, spills, improper disposal or leaching from landfills. These organic compounds pose environmental contamination risks and human health risks if exposed through drinking water. In the event of spills, various national agencies have established tolerable levels of hydrocarbon fractions in drinking water. Guidelines have been developed for a number of substances including ethylbenzene (300 µg/litre), m-xylene, o-xylene and p-xylene (500 µg/litre). Measurement of hydrocarbons may also be required for industrial manufactures discharging petroleum contaminated water to municipal wastewater treatment plants.