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Issue 3, 2015
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Spatial distribution of selected persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Australia's atmosphere

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Abstract

A nation-wide passive air sampling campaign recorded concentrations of persistent organic pollutants in Australia's atmosphere in 2012. XAD-based passive air samplers were deployed for one year at 15 sampling sites located in remote/background, agricultural and semi-urban and urban areas across the continent. Concentrations of 47 polychlorinated biphenyls ranged from 0.73 to 72 pg m−3 (median of 8.9 pg m−3) and were consistently higher at urban sites. The toxic equivalent concentration for the sum of 12 dioxin-like PCBs was low, ranging from below detection limits to 0.24 fg m−3 (median of 0.0086 fg m−3). Overall, the levels of polychlorinated biphenyls in Australia were among the lowest reported globally to date. Among the organochlorine pesticides, hexachlorobenzene had the highest (median of 41 pg m−3) and most uniform concentration (with a ratio between highest and lowest value ∼5). Bushfires may be responsible for atmospheric hexachlorobenzene levels in Australia that exceeded Southern Hemispheric baseline levels by a factor of ∼4. Organochlorine pesticide concentrations generally increased from remote/background and agricultural sites to urban sites, except for high concentrations of α-endosulfan and DDTs at specific agricultural sites. Concentrations of heptachlor (0.47–210 pg m−3), dieldrin (ND-160 pg m−3) and trans- and cis-chlordanes (0.83–180 pg m−3, sum of) in Australian air were among the highest reported globally to date, whereas those of DDT and its metabolites (ND-160 pg m−3, sum of), α-, β-, γ- and δ-hexachlorocyclohexane (ND-6.7 pg m−3, sum of) and α-endosulfan (ND-27 pg m−3) were among the lowest.

Graphical abstract: Spatial distribution of selected persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Australia's atmosphere

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Publication details

The article was received on 06 Nov 2014, accepted on 05 Jan 2015 and first published on 05 Jan 2015


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4EM00594E
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Citation: Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2015,17, 525-532
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    Spatial distribution of selected persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Australia's atmosphere

    X. Wang, K. Kennedy, J. Powell, M. Keywood, R. Gillett, P. Thai, P. Bridgen, S. Broomhall, C. Paxman, F. Wania and J. F. Mueller, Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2015, 17, 525
    DOI: 10.1039/C4EM00594E

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