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Chemosphere. 2017 May;174:390-398. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2017.01.126. Epub 2017 Jan 27.

Paleo-environmental record of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and polychlorobiphenyls at the peripheral site GV7 in Victoria Land (East Antarctica).

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Department of Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry, University of Pisa, Via G. Moruzzi, 15, 56124 Pisa, Italy.
Department of Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry, University of Pisa, Via G. Moruzzi, 15, 56124 Pisa, Italy. Electronic address:


In this paper we investigated the presence of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Polychlorobiphenyls in a 50-m deep snow/firn core collected at the peripheral site GV7 in East Antarctica during the 2013-2014 XXIX Italian expedition. The concentration depth profile was obtained on the basis of the total concentration of fourteen PAHs and seven PCBs individually determined by gas chromatography triple quadrupole mass spectrometry. Both classes of pollutants showed synchronized concentration vs time profile throughout the whole period of time covered by the snow/firn core (1892-2012). A correlation between major explosive volcanic eruptions and the concentration maxima of the pollutants was found. PAH maximum (9 ng/L) was about twice the background level (5 ng/L). PCBs showed a similar but more limited trend with barely visible volcanic maxima. This concurrence highlights the contribution of the major explosive volcanic events to the global contamination level for PAHs, as expected, but also for PCBs whose industrial production and use began in 1930. Excluding the maximum values, PAHs and PCBs showed an increase in the period 1956-1986: PCBs from about 0.05 to 0.21 ng/l (400% increase), and PAHs from about 3.5 to 7.8 ng/l (100% increase). Finally, in the last decade (2000-2010) the trend of these pollutants was different: (i) PCBs constantly decrease (from 0.15 ng/L to 0.10 ng/L), thanks to the implemented restriction on their production and on their use only in closed systems in many countries; (ii) PAHs remains practically constant around 6.5 ng/L.


Antarctica; GV7; One-century record; PAHs; PCBs; Snow/firn core

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