Annual Time Series of Air Concentrations of Polyfluorinated Compounds


Per- and polyfluorinated organic compounds (PFC) in air were determined in samples taken at two sites in the vicinity of Hamburg, Germany, over a period of 14 months. PUF/XAD-2/PUF cartridges and glass fiber filters were applied for the collection of airborne PFC. A set of volatile, neutral PFCs such as fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOH) or perfluorinated sulfonamides and ionic, nonvolatile PFC like perfluorinated carboxylates and sulfonates were determined using GC-MS and HPLC-MS/MS. Backward trajectory analysis was performed to elucidate the origin of the air mass parcels sampled. PFCs were predominantly detected in the gas phase. A fluctuating baseline presenting north German background levels and singular events of high concentrations were characteristic for the time series of all analytes and both locations. The origin of sampled air was the driving parameter influencing the PFC levels. Elevated PFC concentrations occurred in air arriving from industrialized and populated regions west and southwest of Hamburg. Maximum individual PFC concentrations reached 600 pg m−3 (8:2 FTOH) in the gas phase and 13 pg m−3 (perfluorooctane sulfonate) in the particle phase. The class of FTOH clearly dominated the gas-phase substance spectrum. The compound that was detected in highest concentrations was 8:2 FTOH. Individual gas-phase PFC concentrations were higher in summer than in winter. Temperature-dependent emissions of volatile and semi-volatile PFCs from diffuse sources to the gas phase are presumed to be responsible for this observation.
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