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Little is known of the distribution of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the deep ocean. Polyethylene passive samplers were used to detect the vertical distribution of truly dissolved POPs at two sites in the Atlantic Ocean. Samplers were deployed at five depths covering 26–2535 m in the northern Atlantic and Tropical Atlantic, in approximately one year deployments. Samplers of different thickness were used to determine the state of equilibrium POPs reached in the passive samplers. Concentrations of POPs detected in the North Atlantic near the surface (e.g., sum of 14 polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs: 0.84 pg L–1) were similar to previous measurements. At both sites, PCB concentrations showed subsurface maxima (tropical Atlantic Ocean −800 m, North Atlantic −500 m). Currents seemed more important in moving POPs to deeper water masses than the biological pump. The ratio of PCB concentrations in near surface waters (excluding PCB-28) between the two sites was inversely correlated with congeners’ subcooled liquid vapor pressure, in support of the latitudinal fractionation. The results presented here implied a significant amount of HCB is stored in the Atlantic Ocean (4.8–26% of the global HCB environmental burdens), contrasting traditional beliefs that POPs do not reach the deep ocean.

Lohmann_DepthProfiles_SuppInfo_2016.doc (1607 kB)
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