A first long-term monitoring of selected persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Antarctic air has been conducted at the Norwegian research station Troll (Dronning Maud Land). As target contaminants 32 PCB congeners, α- and γ-hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH), trans- and cis-chlordane, trans- and cis-nonachlor, p,p'- and o,p-DDT, DDD, DDE as well as hexachlorobenzene (HCB) were selected. The monitoring program with weekly samples taken during the period 2007–2010 was coordinated with the parallel program at the Norwegian Arctic monitoring site (Zeppelin mountain, Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard) in terms of priority compounds, sampling schedule as well as analytical methods.
The POP concentration levels found in Antarctica were considerably lower than Arctic atmospheric background concentrations. Similar to observations for Arctic samples, HCB is the predominant POP compound, with levels of around 22 pg m−3 throughout the entire monitoring period. In general, the following concentration distribution was found for the Troll samples analyzed: HCB > Sum HCH > Sum PCB > Sum DDT > Sum chlordanes.
Atmospheric long-range transport was identified as a major contamination source for POPs in Antarctic environments. Several long-range transport events with elevated levels of pesticides and/or compounds with industrial sources were identified based on retroplume calculations with a Lagrangian particle dispersion model (FLEXPART).