We have over 12,000 students, from over 100 countries, within one of the safest campuses in the UK


93% of Lancaster students go into work or further study within six months of graduating

Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Comparison of haloacetic acids in the environme...
View graph of relations

« Back

Comparison of haloacetic acids in the environment of the northern and southern hemispheres.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • B. F. Scott
  • C. Spencer
  • J. W. Martin
  • R. Barra
  • H. A. Bootsma
  • Kevin C. Jones
  • A. E. Johnston
  • D. C. G. Muir
Journal publication date15/11/2005
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Number of pages7
Original languageEnglish


Haloacetic acids (HAAs) are a family of compounds whose environmental concentrations have been extensively studied, primarily in Europe. Depending on the compound, their sources are believed to be both natural and anthropogenic. To better understand possible sources and contribute to the knowledge of the global distribution of these compounds, especially between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, samples of precipitation, soils, and conifer needles were collected from Canada, Malawi, Chile, and the U.K. Precipitation samples exhibited highest HAA concentrations in collections from Canada, and lowest in those from Malawi. Malawi samples contained measurable levels of monobromoacetic acid (MBA) (56 ng/L) unlike those from most other locations (<9 ng/L). Soil HAA concentration levels were highest in the U.K. (e.g., 7.3 ng/g average TCA) and lowest in Malawi (0.8 ng/g average TCA), with Chile having higher levels (4.8 ng/g average TCA) than Canada (3 ng/g average TCA). Malawi soils contained small amounts of MBA (2 ng/g), in common with the two most southern of the 11 Chilean sites. Analysis of soil cores (10-cm depth sliced at 1 cm) from sites in Malawi and Chile showed that trichloroacetic acid (TCA) generally declined with depth while mono- and dichloroacetic acid (MCA and DCA) showed no trend. MCA, DCA, and TCA concentrations in archived U.K. soil samples increased by factors of 2, 4, and 5-fold over 75 years while TFA showed no consistent trend. Monochloroacetic acid (MCA) was detected in pine needles collected from Malawi. U.K. needle samples had the highest concentrations of all chloroacetic acids (CAAs): MCA, 2−18 ng/g; dichloroacetic acid (DCA), 2−38 ng/g; and trichloroacetic acid (TCA), 28−190 ng/g. Conifer needles from Canada and Chile contained CAAs at levels ranging from <2 to 16 ng/g wet wt. Trifluoroacetic acid concentrations generally declined with increasing elevation in the samples from the Rocky Mountains in western Canada. The results indicate that concentrations of HAAs are greatest in the industrialized Northern Hemisphere but there are significant amounts of these compounds in the less industrialized Southern Hemisphere.