Seasonal accumulation of persistent organic pollutants on a high altitude glacier in the Eastern Alps


The seasonal accumulations of perfluorinated substances (PFAS), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) were measured in a 10 m shallow firn core from a high altitude glacier at Mt. Ortles (Italy, 3830 m above sea level) in South Tyrol in the Italian Eastern Alps. The most abundant persistent organic pollutants of each group were perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) (for PFASs); BDE 47, BDE 99, BDE 209 (for PBDEs) and phenanthrene (PHE), fluoranthene (FLA) and pyrene (PYR) (for PAHs). All compounds show different extents of seasonality, with higher accumulation during summer time compared to winter. This seasonal difference mainly reflects meteorological conditions with a low and stable atmospheric boundary layer in winter and strong convective activity in summer, transformation processes during the transport of chemicals and/or post-depositional alterations. Change in the composition of the water-soluble PFCAs demonstrates the influence of meltwater percolation through the firn layers.
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