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Long-term trend in PCB and PBDE concentrations in ambient air: The TOMPS network and the UK-Norway transect

Graf, Carola; Breivik, Knut; Jones, Kevin C; Sweetman, Andrew J

Publication details

Event: International conference on Environmental & Food monitoring - ISEAC-40 (Santiago de Compostela)

Date: June 19th 2018 – June 22nd 2018

The UK Toxic Organic Micro Pollutants (TOMPs) Network, which has operated since 1991, collects ambient air samples at six urban, rural, and semi-rural sites across England and Scotland, using high-volume active air samplers [1]. Furthermore, in 1994, a latitudinal sampling transect from the south of England to the north of Norway was established with eleven sampling sites, mainly in remote locations, using Semi-Permeable Membrane Devices (SPMDs) as passive air samplers [2]. Both networks provide continuous, long-term ambient air trend data for a range of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), including PCBs and PBDEs, and have helped demonstrating a decline in POPs air concentrations over the last three decades. However, in recent years no further significant declines have been observed. SumPCB and SumPBDE levels in the UK are lowest at the rural sites and highest for the urban sites (TOMPs), and they generally decrease from the south of England to the north of Norway (UK/Norway) in line with expectations. Higher values at less remote sites and sites downwind from population centres show that POPs concentrations may still mainly be influenced by primary emissions. Concentrations at semi-rural sites lie between rural and urban sites; however, they can exceed the latter in some years. This can probably be attributed to short-term local effects. The data from the TOMPs network shows that concentrations of PCBs are higher in warmer than in colder months, while the seasonal patterns are less uniform for PBDEs.