The spatial distribution of organochlorine pesticides and halogenated flame retardants in the surface sediments of an Arctic fjord: The influence of ocean currents vs. glacial runoff


Selected organochlorine pesticides (OCs) and halogenated flame retardants (HFRs) were analyzed in surficial fjord sediments collected down the length of Kongsfjorden, Svalbard in the Norwegian high Arctic. Hexachlorocyclohexane (α-HCHs) was found to be the most abundant OC in the sediment, followed by BDE-209 > chlordane > α-endosulfan > Dechlorane Plus (anti-DP)> trifluralin concentration ranges were high over the relatively small study area of the fjord (e.g. ∑HCH: 7.2–100 pg g−1 dry weight (dw)), with concentrations broadly similar to, or lower than, measurements conducted in other parts of the Arctic. Concentrations of legacy OCs, including both HCH isomers and chlordane showed a decreasing trend from the outer, seaward end of the fjord to the inner, glacier end of the fjord. Conversely, sediment concentrations of α- and β-endosulfan (0.1–12.5 pg g−1 dw) increased from the outer fjord to the inner fjord. This contrasting pattern may be attributed to the influence of historical vs. contemporary sources of these chemicals to the fjord area, whereby the North Atlantic/West Spitzbergen oceanic current dominates the transport and input of the legacy OCs, whereas atmospheric deposition and meltwater runoff from the glaciers influence the inner fjord sediments for endosulfan. Interestingly, BDE-209 and Dechlorane Plus did not reveal any clear spatial trend. It is plausible that both glacial runoff and oceanic current end members are playing a role in introducing these chemicals to the fjord sediments. The relatively low fractional abundance of the syn-DP isomer (fsyn), however, indicates the long-range transport of this chemical to this Arctic site.
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