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Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of pollutants of high concern due to their ubiquity and negative human health impacts. The long-range marine transport of PFAS was observed during year-long deployments of passive tube samplers in the Fram Strait across three depth transects. Time weighted average concentrations ranged from 2.4 to 360 pg L–1, and 10 different PFAS were regularly observed. PFAS profiles and concentrations were generally similar to those previously characterized for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at these sites. The detection of several anionic PFAS in “old” water demonstrated that they are not perfect water mass tracers but are also transported to depth via settling particles. Mass flows of PFAS through the Fram Strait in and out of the Arctic Ocean were basically similar (112 ± 82 Mg year–1 northward flow, 100 ± 54 Mg year–1 southward flow). For perfluorooctane sulfonamide (FOSA), export from the Arctic Ocean via the Fram Strait exceeded import by Atlantic Water, likely due to preferential transport and deposition in the Arctic Ocean. These observations suggest that PFAS in the Arctic are governed by the feedback loop previously described for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the region─with additional atmospheric transport delivering volatile PFAS to the Arctic, which then get exported via Arctic water masses.

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Environmental Science & Technology Letters