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Environ Sci Technol. 2007 May 1;41(9):3055-61.

Latitudinal gradient of airborne polyfluorinated alkyl substances in the marine atmosphere between Germany and South Africa (53 degrees N-33 degrees S).

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  • 1GKSS Research Centre, Department of Environmental Chemistry, Institute for Coastal Research, Max-Planck-Str. 1, DE-21502 Geesthacht, Germany.


Neutral, volatile polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) were determined in high-volume air samples collected onboard the German research vessel Polarstern during cruise ANTXXIII-1 between Bremerhaven, Germany (53 degrees N) and Capetown, Republic of South Africa (33 degrees S) in fall 2005. An optimized and validated analytical protocol was used for the determination of several fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs) as well as N-alkylated fluorooctane sulfonamides and sulfonamidoethanols (FOSAs/FOSEs). Quantitative analyses were done by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. This study provides the first concentration data of airborne PFAS from the Southern Hemisphere. Results indicate a strongly decreasing concentration gradient from the European continent toward less industrialized regions. The study confirms that airborne PFAS are mainly restricted to the Northern Hemisphere with a maximum concentration of 190 pg/m3 (8:2 FTOH) in the first sample collected in the channel between the European mainland and the UK. However, south of the equator, trace amounts of several FTOHs and FOSAs with a maximum of 14 pg/m3 (8:2 FTOH) could still be detected. Furthermore, a selection of ionic PFAS including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) were determined in the particulate phase of high-volume air samples by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Levels of ionic PFAS were almost 2 orders of magnitude lower than those of neutral PFAS, with maximum concentrations in the first sample of 2.5 pg/m3 (PFOS) and 2.0 pg/m3 (PFOA).

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