Assessing the contribution of atmospheric transport and tourism activities to the occurrence of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in an Alpine Nature Reserve

By Chenchen Wang, Yonglong Lu, Qifeng Li, Xianghui Cao, Meng Zhang, Yunqiao Zhou, Shuai Song, Pei Wang, Xiaotian Lu, Baninla Yvette, and Zhaoyang Liu
Sci. Total Environ.
September 9, 2019
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.133851

Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) are ubiquitous in the global environment, even in remote regions. With increasing production and application of PFAAs in China, their distribution patterns have been widely reported, however with less attention to inland northwestern regions. Long-range transport and direct releases from local activities have been regarded as the main reasons for PFAAs distribution in such a remote area. To identify and quantify the contributions of different sources to PFAAs occurrences, an investigation was conducted in the Tianchi lake, nature reserve. A total of 20 water samples, 8 soil, 4 sediment and 10 fresh snow samples were collected and analyzed in 2015. The mean PFAAs concentrations were 3.38 ng L in surface water, 1.06 ng g dw in soil, 0.53 ng g dw in sediment, and 3.31 ng L in fresh snow, respectively. High levels of PFAAs were observed in surface water (15.41 ng L) from Western Tianchi pond and surface snow (14.24 ng L) from the site near a ski resort around Tianchi Lake indicating potential pollution by local human activities. The correlation between individual concentrations among water, soil and snow indicated the snow deposition as an important source. Although with limited sample size, principal component analysis associated with multiple linear regression (PCA-MLR) and positive matrix factorization (PMF) analyses have identified two major sources, which are characterized as tourism activities with dominance of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and long-range transport with abundant perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA). Their contributions to total levels were 41% and 52%, respectively. These two sources contributed differently to the PFAAs presences in Tianchi and Western Tianchi Lakes. Source analysis indicates that the western Tianchi lake with a relatively small catchment was affected mainly by local activities.

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