Occurrence and sources of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in the ice-melting lakes of Larsemann Hills, East Antarctica

By Guoqiang Shan, Qian Xiang, Xuemin Feng, Wei Wu, Liping Yang, and Lingyan Zhu
Sci Total Environ
April 13, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146747

The contamination and sources of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in the Antarctic continent have not been systematically investigated. In this study, 21 PFASs including some new emerging one, were measured in the surface waters collected from 21 ice-melting lakes next to the research stations in Larsemann Hills, East Antarctica (EA). All the PFASs had a median concentration lower than 26.7 pg/L, representing the background levels in EA. The contamination of PFASs in EA was generally lower than in West Antarctica (WA), which might be due to the less on-site human activities in EA than in WA. In the ice-melting lakes, perfluorooctane acid (PFOA) was predominant, and its concentrations in several lakes close to the research stations in EA could be up to 458 pg/L. For the first time, an emerging substitute of perfluorooctane sulfate (PFOS), 6:2 chlorinated polyfluorinated ether sulfonate (Cl-PFESA), was detected in several of the samples. Source apportionment methods including isomer profiling were applied, and the results collectively indicated that the PFASs in the melting lakes in EA were mainly derived from airborne input, but local discharge might also contribute to PFOA in some lakes. The results of this study supplied information about the sources of PFASs in Antarctica, and suggested that caution should be taken in future to control the local discharge due to increasing human activities in EA.

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