A sensitive and fast method was developed to quantitatively analyse the six polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (fluoranthene (FLT), benzo[b]fluoranthene (BbF), benzo[k]fluoranthene (BkF), benzo[a]pyrene (Bap), benzo[ghi]perylene (BghiP) and indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene (INPY)) by high performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) coupling with tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). Chromatographic separation was performed on a Waters Acquity UPLCTM BEHC18 column (1.7 μm, 2.1 mm × 50 mm). A 0.2 μm precolumn filter was used to protect the analytical column. Mobile phase A was acetonitrile containing 0.5% toluene. Mobile phase B was water. Linearity of detection was in the range of 1–100 μg L−1; LOD of 5 PAHs were lower than 0.1 μg L−1; LOQ were 0.2 μg L−1 except for benzo[k]fluoranthene. The LOD and the LOQ of benzo[k]fluoranthene were respectively 0.1 μg L−1 and 0.8 μg L−1. Wastewater samples collected from two wastewater treatment plants were determined using this method respectively. Recovery of all compounds varied from 67.8 ± 10.6% to 113.2 ± 7.2%. In comparison with the existing methods, this rapid method saves time and solvent and improves instrument sample throughput by 2–5 fold.

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