ACS Publications. Most Trusted. Most Cited. Most Read
My Activity

Figure 1Loading Img

Time Trends of Arctic Contamination in Relation to Emission History and Chemical Persistence and Partitioning Properties

View Author Information
Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, University of Toronto Scarborough, 1265 Military Trail, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M1C 1A4
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2007, 41, 17, 5986–5992
Publication Date (Web):August 1, 2007
Copyright © 2007 American Chemical Society

    Article Views





    Read OnlinePDF (250 KB)
    Supporting Info (1)»


    How long does it take for organic contaminant concentrations to decline in the Arctic after regulatory measures have succeeded in reducing emissions globally? This question is explored by using a zonally averaged global distribution model to estimate the lag-time between the period when emissions begin to decrease and when a decline in a chemical's Arctic Contamination Potential is observed. A long lag is problematic, as contaminant concentrations can continue to increase well after a potential hazard is recognized. Using three different emission scenarios, the chemical property combinations that are most likely to experience a lag on the order of decades were identifed among 96 hypothetical chemicals with different partitioning and reactivity properties. The first such property combination comprises the persistent “swimmers” that reach the Arctic by slow long-range oceanic transport. They require a half-life (t1/2) in water of more than 10 years for a significant lag to occur. The second group of compounds experiencing a long lag includes semivolatile chemicals that are in dynamic exchange between atmosphere and ocean. These “multihoppers”, with air−water partition coefficients, KAW of approximately 0.01, need to be highly persistent in air (t1/2 > 3 years) and surface media (t1/2 > 10 years). Their lag depends both on the oceans' large storage capacity and relatively low stickiness, i.e., a high likelihood of return to the atmosphere. Notably, no lag is predicted for less water soluble multihoppers (KAW > 1), which are more likely to distribute into soils and foliage, because the terrestrial environment is “stickier” than the oceans, greatly reducing the number of hops these chemical will experience. The oceans thus play a crucial role in facilitating delayed Arctic contamination, either by transporting dissolved contaminants slowly to higher latitudes, or by providing a relatively nonsticky temporary storage reservoir which is in constant exchange with the atmosphere. Precaution advises a swift regulatory response to increasing concentrations in remote marine organisms of substances that have property combinations that are predicted to result in a significant delay between emission reductions and concentration declines.


     Corresponding author phone:  (416)287-7225; e-mail:  [email protected].

    Supporting Information Available

    Jump To

    Additional figures with model results, including a discussion on the relevance of the model results for the transport pathways and time trends of persistent perfluroalkyl compounds in the Arctic. This material is available free of charge via the Internet at

    Terms & Conditions

    Most electronic Supporting Information files are available without a subscription to ACS Web Editions. Such files may be downloaded by article for research use (if there is a public use license linked to the relevant article, that license may permit other uses). Permission may be obtained from ACS for other uses through requests via the RightsLink permission system:

    Cited By

    This article is cited by 55 publications.

    1. Terry F. Bidleman, Agneta Andersson, Peter Haglund, Mats Tysklind. Will Climate Change Influence Production and Environmental Pathways of Halogenated Natural Products?. Environmental Science & Technology 2020, 54 (11) , 6468-6485.
    2. Karen L. Foster, Birgit M. Braune, Anthony J. Gaston, Mark L. Mallory. Climate Influence on Legacy Organochlorine Pollutants in Arctic Seabirds. Environmental Science & Technology 2019, 53 (5) , 2518-2528.
    3. Li Li, Frank Wania. Occurrence of Single- and Double-Peaked Emission Profiles of Synthetic Chemicals. Environmental Science & Technology 2018, 52 (8) , 4684-4693.
    4. Liisa M. Jantunen, Fiona Wong, Anya Gawor, Henrik Kylin, Paul A. Helm, Gary A. Stern, William M. J. Strachan, Deborah A. Burniston, and Terry F. Bidleman . 20 Years of Air–Water Gas Exchange Observations for Pesticides in the Western Arctic Ocean. Environmental Science & Technology 2015, 49 (23) , 13844-13852.
    5. Mega Octaviani, Irene Stemmler, Gerhard Lammel, and Hans F. Graf . Atmospheric Transport of Persistent Organic Pollutants to and from the Arctic under Present-Day and Future Climate. Environmental Science & Technology 2015, 49 (6) , 3593-3602.
    6. Anna Sobek and Örjan Gustafsson . Deep Water Masses and Sediments Are Main Compartments for Polychlorinated Biphenyls in the Arctic Ocean. Environmental Science & Technology 2014, 48 (12) , 6719-6725.
    7. Sebastian Schenker, Martin Scheringer, and Konrad Hungerbühler . Do Persistent Organic Pollutants Reach a Thermodynamic Equilibrium in the Global Environment?. Environmental Science & Technology 2014, 48 (9) , 5017-5024.
    8. Henry Wöhrnschimmel, Matthew MacLeod, and Konrad Hungerbuhler . Emissions, Fate and Transport of Persistent Organic Pollutants to the Arctic in a Changing Global Climate. Environmental Science & Technology 2013, 47 (5) , 2323-2330.
    9. Henry Wöhrnschimmel, Pascal Tay, Harald von Waldow, Hayley Hung, Yi-Fan Li, Matthew MacLeod, and Konrad Hungerbuhler . Comparative Assessment of the Global Fate of α- and β-Hexachlorocyclohexane before and after Phase-Out. Environmental Science & Technology 2012, 46 (4) , 2047-2054.
    10. Sung-Deuk Choi and Frank Wania . On the Reversibility of Environmental Contamination with Persistent Organic Pollutants. Environmental Science & Technology 2011, 45 (20) , 8834-8841.
    11. Don Mackay and Jon A. Arnot . The Application of Fugacity and Activity to Simulating the Environmental Fate of Organic Contaminants. Journal of Chemical & Engineering Data 2011, 56 (4) , 1348-1355.
    12. Gertje Czub, Frank Wania and Michael S. McLachlan . Combining Long-Range Transport and Bioaccumulation Considerations to Identify Potential Arctic Contaminants. Environmental Science & Technology 2008, 42 (10) , 3704-3709.
    13. Bilge Bıçak, Serda Kecel Gündüz, Fazilet Özlem Albayrak, Nihal Gören Sağlam. Nanoparticles and plant–microbe interactions: current status and overview. 2023, 3-33.
    14. Sophie Jensen, Bjørn Einar Grøsvik, Claudia Halsband, Halldór Pálmar Halldórsson, Heather A. Leslie, Helga Gunnlaugsdóttir, Hermann Dreki Guls, Katrin Vorkamp, Maria E. Granberg, Valtýr Sigurðsson, Hrönn Ólína Jörundsdóttir. Understanding microplastic pollution in the Nordic marine environment – knowledge gaps and suggested approaches. Microplastics and Nanoplastics 2022, 2 (1)
    15. Todd Gouin. Addressing the importance of microplastic particles as vectors for long-range transport of chemical contaminants: perspective in relation to prioritizing research and regulatory actions. Microplastics and Nanoplastics 2021, 1 (1)
    16. Ian John Allan, Branislav Vrana, Jasperien de Weert, Alfhild Kringstad, Anders Ruus, Guttorm Christensen, Petr Terentjev, Norman Whitaker Green. Passive sampling and benchmarking to rank HOC levels in the aquatic environment. Scientific Reports 2021, 11 (1)
    17. Guangshui Na, Jiandong Ye, Ruijing Li, Hui Gao, Shuaichen Jin, Yunze Gao, Chao Hou, Jiajin Huang. Fate of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the Pacific sector of the Arctic Ocean based on a level III fugacity environmental multimedia model. Marine Pollution Bulletin 2021, 166 , 112195.
    18. D. Geetha, E.R. Nagarajan. Impact and Issues of Organic Pollutants. 2021, 93-126.
    19. Yuan Gao, Hongyuan Zheng, Yinyue Xia, Minghong Cai. Global scale distribution, seasonal changes and long-range transport potentiality of endosulfan in the surface seawater and air. Chemosphere 2020, 260 , 127634.
    20. S. D. W. Comber, M. J. Gardner, C. Constantino, S. Firth, A. Hargreaves, R. Davies. Modelling scenarios of environmental recovery after implementation of controls on emissions of persistent organic pollutants. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts 2020, 22 (9) , 1865-1876.
    21. Seung-Kyu Kim, Donghao Li, Kurunthachalam Kannan. In situ measurement-based partitioning behavior of perfluoroalkyl acids in the atmosphere. Environmental Engineering Research 2020, 25 (3) , 281-289.
    22. Donald Mackay, Alena K. D. Celsie, J. Mark Parnis, Jon A. Arnot. A perspective on the role of fugacity and activity for evaluating the PBT properties of organic chemicals and providing a multi-media synoptic indicator of environmental contamination. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts 2020, 22 (3) , 518-527.
    23. Rezwana Assad, Zafar Ahmad Reshi, Irfan Rashid, Yogesh Shouche, Dhiraj Dhotre. Role of Ectomycorrhizal Biotechnology in Pesticide Remediation. 2020, 315-330.
    24. Frank Wania, Li Li, Michael S. McLachlan. Mechanistically Modeling Human Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants. 2020, 115-128.
    25. Rong Jin, Minghui Zheng, Gerhard Lammel, Benjamin A. Musa Bandowe, Guorui Liu. Chlorinated and brominated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: Sources, formation mechanisms, and occurrence in the environment. Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 2020, 76 , 100803.
    26. Yanfen Hao, Yingming Li, Xu Han, Thanh Wang, Ruiqiang Yang, Pu Wang, Ke Xiao, Wenjuan Li, Huili Lu, Jianjie Fu, Yawei Wang, Jianbo Shi, Qinghua Zhang, Guibin Jiang. Air monitoring of polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers and organochlorine pesticides in West Antarctica during 2011–2017: Concentrations, temporal trends and potential sources. Environmental Pollution 2019, 249 , 381-389.
    27. Terry F. Bidleman, Agneta Andersson, Liisa M. Jantunen, John R. Kucklick, Henrik Kylin, Robert J. Letcher, Mats Tysklind, Fiona Wong. A review of halogenated natural products in Arctic, Subarctic and Nordic ecosystems. Emerging Contaminants 2019, 5 , 89-115.
    28. Derek Muir, Xianming Zhang, Cynthia A. de Wit, Katrin Vorkamp, Simon Wilson. Identifying further chemicals of emerging arctic concern based on ‘in silico’ screening of chemical inventories. Emerging Contaminants 2019, 5 , 201-210.
    29. Tanya M. Brown, Robie W. Macdonald, Derek C.G. Muir, Robert J. Letcher. The distribution and trends of persistent organic pollutants and mercury in marine mammals from Canada's Eastern Arctic. Science of The Total Environment 2018, 618 , 500-517.
    30. Chubashini Shunthirasingham, Nick Alexandrou, Kenneth A. Brice, Helena Dryfhout-Clark, Ky Su, Cecilia Shin, Richard Park, Artur Pajda, Ronald Noronha, Hayley Hung. Temporal trends of halogenated flame retardants in the atmosphere of the Canadian Great Lakes Basin (2005–2014). Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts 2018, 20 (3) , 469-479.
    31. Efstathios Reppas-Chrysovitsinos, Anna Sobek, Matthew MacLeod. Screening-level exposure-based prioritization to identify potential POPs, vPvBs and planetary boundary threats among Arctic contaminants. Emerging Contaminants 2017, 3 (2) , 85-94.
    32. Recep Kaya Göktaş, Matthew MacLeod. Remoteness from sources of persistent organic pollutants in the multi-media global environment. Environmental Pollution 2016, 217 , 33-41.
    33. Shanshan Di, Wenjun Zhang, Li Chen, Zhiqiang Zhou, Jinling Diao. Toxicokinetics and oxidative stress in Tubifex tubifex exposed to hexachlorocyclohexane isomers. RSC Advances 2016, 6 (23) , 19016-19024.
    34. Joseph R Bennett, Justine D Shaw, Aleks Terauds, John P Smol, Rien Aerts, Dana M Bergstrom, Jules M Blais, William WL Cheung, Steven L Chown, Mary-Anne Lea, Uffe N Nielsen, Daniel Pauly, Kenneth J Reimer, Martin J Riddle, Ian Snape, Jonathan S Stark, Vivitskaia J Tulloch, Hugh P Possingham. Polar lessons learned: long-term management based on shared threats in Arctic and Antarctic environments. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2015, 13 (6) , 316-324.
    35. Roland Kallenborn, Hayley Hung, Eva Brorström-Lundén. Atmospheric Long-Range Transport of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) into Polar Regions. 2015, 411-432.
    36. Kees Booij, Ronald van Bommel, Hendrik M. van Aken, Hans van Haren, Geert-Jan A. Brummer, Herman Ridderinkhof. Passive sampling of nonpolar contaminants at three deep-ocean sites. Environmental Pollution 2014, 195 , 101-108.
    37. Qian Zheng, Luca Nizzetto, Marie D. Mulder, Ondřej Sáňka, Gerhard Lammel, Jun Li, Haijian Bing, Xin Liu, Yishan Jiang, Chunlin Luo, Gan Zhang. Does an analysis of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) distribution in mountain soils across China reveal a latitudinal fractionation paradox?. Environmental Pollution 2014, 195 , 115-122.
    38. Birgit M. Braune, Anthony J. Gaston, Robert J. Letcher, H. Grant Gilchrist, Mark L. Mallory, Jennifer F. Provencher. A geographical comparison of chlorinated, brominated and fluorinated compounds in seabirds breeding in the eastern Canadian Arctic. Environmental Research 2014, 134 , 46-56.
    39. Deguo Kong, Matthew MacLeod, Ian T. Cousins. Modelling the influence of climate change on the chemical concentrations in the Baltic Sea region with the POPCYCLING-Baltic model. Chemosphere 2014, 110 , 31-40.
    40. Vandana Singh, Nandita Singh. Uptake and accumulation of endosulfan isomers and its metabolite endosulfan sulfate in naturally growing plants of contaminated area. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 2014, 104 , 189-193.
    41. E.L. Gregoraszczuk, A. Ptak, A. Karpeta, E. Fiedor, A. Wróbel, T. Milewicz, J. Falandysz. Hexachlorobenzene and pentachlorobenzene accumulation, metabolism and effect on steroid secretion and on CYP11A1 and CYP19 expression in cultured human placental tissue. Reproductive Toxicology 2014, 43 , 102-110.
    42. Seth Newton, Terry Bidleman, Magnus Bergknut, Jacinthe Racine, Hjalmar Laudon, Reiner Giesler, Karin Wiberg. Atmospheric deposition of persistent organic pollutants and chemicals of emerging concern at two sites in northern Sweden. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts 2014, 16 (2) , 298.
    43. Derek Muir, Rainer Lohmann. Water as a new matrix for global assessment of hydrophilic POPs. TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry 2013, 46 , 162-172.
    44. Irene Stemmler, Gerhard Lammel. Evidence of the return of past pollution in the ocean: A model study. Geophysical Research Letters 2013, 40 (7) , 1373-1378.
    45. John M. Balbus, Alistair B.A. Boxall, Richard A. Fenske, Thomas E. McKone, Lauren Zeise. Implications of global climate change for the assessment and management of human health risks of chemicals in the natural environment. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 2013, 32 (1) , 62-78.
    46. Tair Teran, Lara Lamon, Antonio Marcomini. Climate change effects on POPs' environmental behaviour: a scientific perspective for future regulatory actions. Atmospheric Pollution Research 2012, 3 (4) , 466-476.
    47. P.C. Abhilash, Jeff R. Powell, Harikesh B. Singh, Brajesh K. Singh. Plant–microbe interactions: novel applications for exploitation in multipurpose remediation technologies. Trends in Biotechnology 2012, 30 (8) , 416-420.
    48. G. Lammel, I. Stemmler. Fractionation and current time trends of PCB congeners: evolvement of distributions 1950–2010 studied using a global atmosphere-ocean general circulation model. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 2012, 12 (15) , 7199-7213.
    49. Ewa Ł. Gregoraszczuk, Anna Ptak, Agnieszka Rak-Mardyła, Jerzy Falandysz. Differential accumulation of HCBz and PeCBz in porcine ovarian follicles and their opposing actions on steroid secretion and CYP11, CYP17, 17β-HSD and CYP19 protein expression. A tissue culture approach. Reproductive Toxicology 2011, 31 (4) , 494-499.
    50. James M. Armitage, Cristina L. Quinn, Frank Wania. Global climate change and contaminants—an overview of opportunities and priorities for modelling the potential implications for long-term human exposure to organic compounds in the Arctic. Journal of Environmental Monitoring 2011, 13 (6) , 1532.
    51. Todd Gouin. The precautionary principle and environmental persistence: prioritizing the decision-making process. Environmental Science & Policy 2010, 13 (3) , 175-184.
    52. Christina E Cowan‐Ellsberry, Michael S McLachlan, Jon A Arnot, Matthew MacLeod, Thomas E McKone, Frank Wania. Modeling Exposure to Persistent Chemicals in Hazard and Risk Assessment. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 2009, 5 (4) , 662-679.
    53. Robert E. Bailey, Dolf van Wijk, Paul C. Thomas. Sources and prevalence of pentachlorobenzene in the environment. Chemosphere 2009, 75 (5) , 555-564.
    54. P.C. Abhilash, Sarah Jamil, Vandana Singh, Amita Singh, Nandita Singh, S.C. Srivastava. Occurrence and distribution of hexachlorocyclohexane isomers in vegetation samples from a contaminated area. Chemosphere 2008, 72 (1) , 79-86.
    55. Sung-Deuk Choi. Prediction of Concentrations and Congener Patterns of Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Korea Using Historical Emission Data and a Multimedia Environmental Model. Journal of Korean Society for Atmospheric Environment 2008, 24 (2) , 249-258.

    Pair your accounts.

    Export articles to Mendeley

    Get article recommendations from ACS based on references in your Mendeley library.

    Pair your accounts.

    Export articles to Mendeley

    Get article recommendations from ACS based on references in your Mendeley library.

    You’ve supercharged your research process with ACS and Mendeley!

    STEP 1:
    Click to create an ACS ID

    Please note: If you switch to a different device, you may be asked to login again with only your ACS ID.

    Please note: If you switch to a different device, you may be asked to login again with only your ACS ID.

    Please note: If you switch to a different device, you may be asked to login again with only your ACS ID.

    Your Mendeley pairing has expired. Please reconnect