Levels, sources and chemical fate of persistent organic pollutants in the atmosphere and snow along the western Antarctic Peninsula


The Antarctic continent is among the most pristine regions; yet various organic contaminants have been measured there routinely. Air and snow samples were collected during the austral spring (October–November, 2010) along the western Antarctic Peninsula and analyzed for organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) to assess the relative importance of long-range transport versus local primary or secondary emissions. Highest concentrations of PCBs, PBDEs and DDTs were observed in the glacier’s snow sample, highlighting the importance of melting glaciers as a possible secondary source of legacy pollutants to the Antarctic. In the atmosphere, contaminants were mainly found in the vapor phase (>65%). Hexachlorobenzene (33.6 pg/m3), PCBs (11.6 pg/m3), heptachlor (5.64 pg/m3), PBDEs (4.22 pg/m3) and cis-chlordane (2.43 pg/m3) were the most abundant contaminants. In contrast to other compounds, PBDEs seem to have originated from local sources, possibly the research station itself. Gas-particle partitioning for analytes were better predicted using the adsorption partitioning model than an octanol-based absorption approach. Diffusive flux calculations indicated that net deposition is the dominant pathway for PBDEs and chlordanes, whereas re-volatilization from snow (during melting or metamorphosis) was observed for PCBs and some OCPs.


Civil Engineering

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Environmental Pollution



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