Pathways of PFOA to the Arctic: Variabilities and contributions of oceanic currents and atmospheric transport and chemistry sources

  • Stemmler I
  • Lammel G
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Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and other per-fluorinated compounds are
industrial chemicals in use for decades which resist degradation in the
environment and seem to accumulate in polar regions. Transport of PFOA
was modeled using a spatially resolved global multicompartment model
including fully coupled three-dimensional ocean and atmosphere general
circulation models, and two-dimensional top soil, vegetation surfaces,
and sea ice compartments. In addition to primary emissions, the
formation of PFOA in the atmosphere from degradation of 8: 2
fluorotelomer alcohol was included as a PFOA source. Oceanic transport,
delivered 14.8 +/- 5.0 (8-23) t a(-1) to the Arctic, strongly influenced
by changes in water transport, which determined its interannual
variability. This pathway constituted the dominant source of PFOA to the
Arctic. Formation of PFOA in the atmosphere led to episodic transport
events (timescale of days) into the Arctic with small spatial extent.
Deposition in the polar region was found to be dominated by wet
deposition over land, and shows maxima in boreal winter. The total
atmospheric deposition of PFOA in the Arctic in the 1990s was
approximate to 1 t a(-1), much higher than previously estimated, and is
dominated by primary emissions rather than secondary formation.

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  • I. Stemmler

  • G. Lammel

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