Elucidation of contamination sources for poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) on Svalbard (Norwegian Arctic)

By Skaar JS, Ræder EM, Lyche JL, Ahrens L, Kallenborn R.
Environ Sci Pollut Res Int.
November 7, 2019
DOI: 10.1007/s11356-018-2162-4

A combination of local (i.e. firefighting training facilities) and remote sources (i.e. long-range transport) is assumed to be responsible for the occurrence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in Svalbard (Norwegian Arctic). However, no systematic elucidation of local PFASs sources has been conducted yet. Therefore, a survey was performed aiming at identifying local PFAS pollution sources on the island of Spitsbergen (Svalbard, Norway). Soil, freshwater (lake, draining rivers), seawater, meltwater run-off, surface snow and coastal sediment samples were collected from Longyearbyen (Norwegian mining town), Ny-Ålesund (research facility) and the Lake Linnévatnet area (background site) during several campaigns (2014-2016) and analysed for 14 individual target PFASs. For background site (Linnévatnet area, sampling during April to June 2015), ΣPFAS levels ranged from 0.4 to 4 ng/L in surface lake water (n = 20). PFAS in meltwater from the contributing glaciers showed similar concentrations (~ 4 ng/L, n = 2). The short-chain perfluorobutanoate (PFBA) was predominant in lake water (60-80% of the ΣPFASs), meltwater (20-30%) and run-off water (40%). Long-range transport is assumed to be the major PFAS source. In Longyearbyen, five water samples (i.e. 2 seawater, 3 run-off) were collected near the local firefighting training site (FFTS) in November 2014 and June 2015, respectively. The highest PFAS levels were found in FFTS meltwater run-off (118 ng/L). Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) was the most abundant compound in the FFTS meltwater run-off (53-58% PFASs). At the research station Ny-Ålesund, seawater (n = 6), soil (n = 9) and freshwater (n = 10) were collected in June 2016. Low ΣPFAS concentrations were determined for seawater (5-6 ng/L), whereas high ΣPFAS concentrations were found in run-off water (113-119 ng/L) and soil (211-800 ng/g dry weight (dw)) collected close to the local FFTS. In addition, high ΣPFAS levels (127 ng/L) were also found in freshwater from lake Solvatnet close to former sewage treatment facility. Overall, at both FFTS-affected sites (soil, water), PFOS was the most abundant compound (60-69% of ΣPFASs). FFTS and landfill locations were identified as major PFAS sources for Svalbard settlements.

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