Diffusive fluxes of persistent organic pollutants between Arctic atmosphere, surface waters and sediments

Sep 20, 2023


Arctic communities are disproportionately exposed to pollutants from sources including global atmospheric transport and formerly used defense sites (FUDS). The effects of climate change and increasing development in the Arctic have the potential to exacerbate this problem. Yupik People of Sivuqaq, or St Lawrence Island, Alaska are one such community with documented exposures to pollutants from FUDS, and their traditional lipid-rich foods such as blubber and rendered oils of marine mammals. Troutman Lake, adjacent to the Yupik community of Gambell, Alaska, was used as a disposal site during the decommission of the adjacent FUDS, leading to community concern about exposure to military pollution and intrusion from historic local dump sites. In collaboration with a local community group, this study utilized passive sampling devices deployed in Troutman Lake. Air, water and sediment deployed samplers were analyzed for unsubstituted and alkylated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), brominated and organophosphate flame retardants and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PAH concentrations were low and comparable to other remote/rural locations. PAHs were generally in deposition from the overlying atmosphere into Troutman Lake. Of the flame retardants, brominated diphenyl ether-47 was detected in all surface water samplers while triphenyl phosphate was detected in all environmental compartments. Both were at concentrations equivalent or lower than other remote locations. Of particular interest, we measured higher atmospheric concentrations of tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) (0.75–2.8 ng/m3) than previously reported in the literature for remote Arctic sites (<0.017–0.56 ng/m3). TCEP was found to be in deposition to Troutman Lake at magnitudes from 290 to 1300 ng/m2/day. No PCBs were detected in this study. Our findings demonstrate the relevance of both modern and legacy chemicals from local and global sources. These results help us to understand the fate of anthropogenic contaminants in dynamic Arctic systems providing valuable data for communities, policy makers and scientists.


Arctic chemical movement
Passive sampling
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
Organophosphate esters
Community engaged research

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