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Environ Sci Technol. 2005 Oct 15;39(20):7803-9.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in airborne particulates collected during a research expedition from the Bohai Sea to the Arctic.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Organic Geochemistry, Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510640, China.


In July to September 2003, particulates in the oceanic atmosphere from the Bohai Sea to the high Arctic (37 degrees N to 80 degrees N) were collected aboard a research expedition icebreaker, Xuelong (Snow Dragon), under the 2003 Chinese Arctic Research Expedition Program (CHINARE 2003). These samples were analyzed to elucidate the atmospheric distributions of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the North Pacific Ocean and adjacent Arctic region. The levels of 11 PBDE congeners (BDE-28, -47, -66, -100, -99, -85, -154, -153, -138, -183, and -209; the sum was defined as sigma11PBDE) in the oceanic atmosphere of Far East Asia (34-48 degrees N/122-148 degrees E) ranged from 2.25 to 198.9 pg/m3 with a mean of 58.3 pg/m3. BDE-47, -99, -100, and -209 were the dominant congeners in all the samples, suggesting that the widely used commercial penta- and deca-BDE products were the original sources. The PBDE levels exhibited a decreasing trend from the mid- to high-latitudinal regions of the North Pacific Ocean, probably resulting from dilution, deposition, and decomposition of PBDEs during long-range transport of air masses. On the other hand, no apparent geographical pattern of PBDE distribution was observed within the Arctic, attributable to unstable air circulation and strong air mixing. Correlations among the PBDE congeners suggested that air masses collected from the North Pacific Ocean were relatively fresh, whereas those from the Arctic were aged as a result of photodecompoisiton. The higher average level (17.3 pg/m3) of PBDE congeners in the Arctic than those in the adjacent North Pacific Ocean (12.8 pg/m3) or other remote areas reported in the literature was attributed to the impact of the North American continent and temperature effects, which was consistent with the hypotheses of global fractionation.

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