Volatile liquid hydrocarbons (VLHs) represent some 40% of crude oil and are considered to be the most toxic compounds of petroleum other than the carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The distribution of these compounds in Kuwait's coastal waters in the vicinity and at the inlets of power plants was assessed. About 200 samples were collected from selected sampling stations over the four seasons. The VLHs in the samples were concentrated using Grob's closed-loop technique and analyzed by GC using FID and confirmed by GC/MS. The results showed that VLHs were ubiquitous in the coastal water of Kuwait. The detected levels (ranged from 307 to 7882 ng/l in Kuwait Bay and from 331 to 5017 ng/l in the south) were comparable to the levels found in other parts of the world and were not alarming. However, the spotty higher levels encountered gave reason for some concern. Benzenoids (originating from petroleum) predominated, representing roughly 70% of the total VLHs. The levels were relatively low at the intake of the power plant located in the Kuwait Bay (annual average 677 ng/l) while higher levels (annual average 3006 ng/l) were encountered at the intake of the plant located at the south of oil the loading terminals and refineries.

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