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Delivery of unprecedented amounts of perfluoroalkyl substances towards the deep-sea

AuthorsSánchez-Vidal, Anna; Llorca, Marta ; Farré, Marinella ; Canals, Miquel; Barceló, Damià ; Puig, Pere ; Calafat, Antoni
KeywordsDeep sea
Dense shelf water cascading
Settling particles
Perfluoroalkyl substances
Issue Date1-Sep-2015
CitationScience of the Total Environment 526: 41-48 (2015)
AbstractThe finding of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in particles sinking to the deep northwestern Mediterranean Sea confirms the role of the latter as ballast for the transfer of pollutants to the deep sea. The transfer of particulate matter down to the deep is enhanced during atmosphere-driven, high-energy physical oceanographic processes like dense shelf water cascading (DSWC), which is caused by winter surface heat losses and evaporation. Here we present data from samples collected during winter 2012, when dense shelf water formation and subsequent cascading triggered the flushing of large amounts of PFASs through a submarine canyon to depths in excess of 1000. m. The finding of quantifiable concentrations of long-chain PFOA, PFOS and PFNA substances and significantly high concentrations of the short-chain substances PFHxA and PFBA indicates that these compounds, sorbed onto particulate matter, are quickly and directly transferred to the ocean's interior, thus highlighting the role of DSWC in removing those pollutants from the coastal ocean. Eventually, uncertainties about our results arising from the limited number of samples available are counterbalanced by their intrinsic value as intense DSWC events, like the one in 2012, occur only every 5-7. years in the study area, which seriously restricts sampling opportunities. Our results add PFASs to the list of persistent organic pollutants like polychlorinated biphenyls, chlorobenzenes or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons known to be conveyed to the deep marine environment. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.
Description8 pages, 3 figures, 2 tables
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.04.080
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.04.080
issn: 0048-9697
e-issn: 1879-1026
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