Investigating Input Pathways of Persistent Organic Pollutants to Eastern Antarctica

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Nash, Susan Bengtson

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Hawker, Darryl

Cropp, Roger

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Despite the apparent pristine conditions and remoteness of Antarctica, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have been detected in the Antarctic ecosystem since the 1960s. Today, a variety of organic pollutants can be found in Antarctica, often concentrated in local biota. In this thesis I investigate four system input pathways for POPs to Australian Antarctic territory, Eastern Antarctica. This work has been conducted with the purpose of contributing to an understanding of the possible impacts of these pollutants under present and projected climate conditions, as well as establishing robust baselines from which to monitor temporal and spatial trends. The first long range environmental transport (LRET) pathway investigated was the introduction of POP via long range atmospheric transport (LRAT). Transport was assessed via high flow-through passive air sampling at Casey Station between 2009 and 2013, with sample changeover every 1 to 3 months. The results of this study present the first continuous, multi-year sampling effort for POPs originating from the Eastern Antarctic sector. The POP profile presented is distinct from other regions and is characterised by a dominance of agricultural, rather than manufacturing, chemicals, particularly hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and endosulfan. The study also presents the first reported occurrence of endosulfan in air masses on the Antarctic continent, providing evidence of the LRAT capabilities of this compound. Whilst a moderate data timespan of four years is presented, it is projected that continual monitoring at the decadal scale would be required to detect a 5% change in levels with 80% confidence, emphasising the importance of long term monitoring efforts.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Griffith School of Environment

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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.

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Persistent organic pollutants

Australian Antarctic territory, Eastern Antarctica

Casey Station

Long range environmental transport (LRET) pathway

Pollution, Antarctica

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