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Seasonally resolved concentrations of persistent organic pollutants in the global atmosphere from the first year of the GAPS study.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  • Karla Pozo
  • Tom Harner
  • Sum Chi Lee
  • Frank Wania
  • Derek G. C. Muir
  • Kevin C. Jones
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/02/2009
<mark>Journal</mark>Environmental Science and Technology
Issue number3
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)796-803
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in air are reported from the first full year of the Global Atmospheric Passive Sampling (GAPS) Network. Passive air samplers composed of polyurethane foam disks (PUF-disk samplers) were deployed over four consecutive three-month periods in 2005 to measure seasonal concentrations of POPs at a variety of site types on a global scale, with an emphasis on background/remote locations. Samples for the last three quarters are reported here for the first time. Annual geometric mean (GM) concentrations in air (pg·m−3) were highest for endosulfan, a currently used pesticide (GM = 82), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (GM = 26). Other chemicals regularly detected included α- and γ-hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH), chlordanes, heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide, dieldrin, p,p’-DDE and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). With the exception of lower concentrations during the first quarter, no seasonal patterns were observed on a global basis. In contrast, some distinct seasonal patterns were observed on a site-specific basis. For instance, endosulfans exhibited strong seasonality with highest concentrations during the summer periods, especially at or near agricultural sites. The latitudinal distribution of target chemicals reflected the estimated spatial variability of global emissions, with highest concentrations observed in the midlatitudes of the northern hemisphere. In the case of PCBs, the GAPS data reflected and were well correlated with global emission estimates, with highest concentrations in developed and industrialized regions. Data provided through the GAPS Network establish global baseline values, and continuation of the time series will contribute to the effectiveness evaluation of global treaties on POPs (e.g., Stockholm Convention). Globally resolved data will also foster the development and validation of global transport models for POPs, and the investigation of seasonal and interannual trends in concentrations of POPs in the global atmosphere.