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Environ Sci Technol. 2005 Aug 1;39(15):5763-73.

Using passive air samplers to assess urban-rural trends for persistent organic pollutants and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. 2. Seasonal trends for PAHs, PCBs, and organochlorine pesticides.

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Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment Canada, 4905 Dufferin Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3H 5T4.


This is the second of two papers demonstrating the feasibility of using passive air samplers to investigate persistent organic pollutants along an urban-rural transect in Toronto. The first paper investigated spatial trends for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs). This second paper investigates the seasonality of air concentrations for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), PCBs, and OCPs along this transect. Air samplers, consisting of polyurethane foam (PUF) disks housed in stainless steel domed chambers, were deployed for three 4-month integration periods from June 2000 to July 2001. The seasonal variations of derived air concentrations for PAHs, PCBs, and OCPs reflected the different source characteristics for these compounds. PAHs showed a strong urban-rural gradient with maximum concentrations at urban sites during the summer period (July-October). These high summer values in Toronto were attributed to increases in evaporative emissions from petroleum products such as asphalt. PCBs also exhibited a strong urban-rural gradient with maximum air concentrations (approximately 2-3 times higher) during the spring period (April-June). This was attributed to increased surface-air exchange of PCBs that had accumulated in the surface layer over the winter. alpha-HCH was fairly uniformly distributed, spatially and temporally, as expected. This pattern and the derived air concentration of approximately 35 to approximately 100 pg m(-3) agreed well with high volume air data from this region, adding confidence to the operation of the passive samplers and showing that site-to-site differences in sampling rates was not an issue. For other OCPs, highest concentrations were observed during the spring period. This was associated with either (i) their local and/or regional application (gamma-HCH, endosulfan) and (ii) their revolatilization (chlordanes, DDT isomers, dieldrin, and toxaphene). Principal component analysis resulted in clusters for the different target chemicals according to their chemical class/source type. The results of this study demonstrate how such a simple sampling technique can provide both spatial and seasonal information. These data, integrated over seasons, can be used to evaluate contaminant trends and the potential role of large urban centers as sources of some semivolatile compounds to the regional environment, including the Great Lakes ecosystem.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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