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Levels and trends of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances in the Arctic environment – An update

Vitenskapelig artikkel
Emerging Contaminants
Eksterne nettsted
Derek Muir, Rossana Bossi, Pernilla Carlsson, Marlene Evans, Amila De Silva, Crispin Halsall, Cassandra Rauert, Dorte Herzke, Hayley Hung, Robert Letcher, Frank Rigét, Anna Roos


Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are important environmental contaminants globally and in the early 2000s they were shown to be ubiquitous contaminants in Arctic wildlife. Previous reviews by Butt et al. and Letcher et al. have covered studies on levels and trends of PFASs in the Arctic that were available to 2009. The purpose of this review is to focus on more recent work, generally published between 2009 and 2018, with emphasis on PFASs of emerging concern such as perfluoroalkyl carboxylates (PFCAs) and short-chain perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFSAs) and their precursors. Atmospheric measurements over the period 2006–2014 have shown that fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs) as well as perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) and perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA) are the most prominent PFASs in the arctic atmosphere, all with increasing concentrations at Alert although PFOA concentrations declined at the Zeppelin Station (Svalbard). Results from ice cores show generally increasing deposition of PFCAs on the Devon Ice cap in the Canadian arctic while declining fluxes were found in a glacier on Svalbard. An extensive dataset exists for long-term trends of long-chain PFCAs that have been reported in Arctic biota with some datasets including archived samples from the 1970s and 1980s. Trends in PFCAs over time vary among the same species across the North American Arctic, East and West Greenland, and Svalbard. Most long term time series show a decline from higher concentrations in the early 2000s. However there have been recent (post 2010) increasing trends of PFCAs in ringed seals in the Canadian Arctic, East Greenland polar bears and in arctic foxes in Svalbard. Annual biological sampling is helping to determine these relatively short term changes. Rising levels of some PFCAs have been explained by continued emissions of long-chain PFCAs and/or their precursors and inflows to the Arctic Ocean, especially from the North Atlantic. While the effectiveness of biological sampling for temporal trends in long-chain PFCAs and PFSAs has been demonstrated, this does not apply to the C4–C8–PFCAs, perfluorobutane sulfonamide (FBSA), or perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS) which are generally present at low concentrations in biota. In addition to air sampling, sampling abiotic media such as glacial cores, and annual sampling of lake waters and seawater would appear to be the best approaches for investigating trends in the less bioaccumulative PFASs.