Emerging Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) in the Western South Atlantic and Antarctic Biota

Erin Markham, University of Rhode Island


Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are largely synthetically produced chemicals that are known to persist in the environment, bioaccumulate, have the potential to be transported long distances, and cause adverse effects. There are legacy POPs that have been around for decades and have either been banned or strictly regulated, but are still found in the environment; and there are emerging POPs that are either not yet or are very newly regulated. This research focuses on contributions to the global dataset of emerging POPs by investigating hydrophilic perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in surface waters and at depth of the Western South Atlantic; as well as hydrophobic polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in Antarctic biota (plankton, krill, fish, fur seal milk). PFAS were found in all surface waters (Sum[PFAS] 20.3 - 525.8 pg/L) and at depths of up to 5526 m. This confirms the infiltration of these compounds into our global oceans. PBDEs were detected at the highest concentrations in Antarctic plankton (plankton > krill > fur seal milk > fish). This is contrary to the biomagnification seen in many legacy compounds and indicates the potential for biodilution and species-specific metabolic processes occurring. These data contribute to the growing knowledge of emerging pollutants in the southern hemisphere, which is generally less prominently covered in terms of pollution studies.

Subject Area

Ecology|Chemical Oceanography|Environmental Health|Organic chemistry|Environmental science

Recommended Citation

Erin Markham, "Emerging Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) in the Western South Atlantic and Antarctic Biota" (2014). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1571485.