Articles | Volume 14, issue 9
Research article
07 May 2014
Research article |  | 07 May 2014

Atmospheric deposition of polybromodiphenyl ethers in remote mountain regions of Europe

L. Arellano, P. Fernández, J. F. López, N. L. Rose, U. Nickus, H. Thies, E. Stuchlik, L. Camarero, J. Catalan, and J. O. Grimalt

Abstract. Polybromodiphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were analyzed in bulk atmospheric deposition collected in four European remote mountain areas over a period of two years (2004–2006): Lake Redon (Pyrenees, Catalonia, Spain), Gossenköllesee (Alps, Austria), Lochnagar (Grampian Mountains, Scotland) and Skalnate (Tatras, Slovakia). In all sites, the PBDE distributions were dominated by BDE209. BDE47 and BDE99 were the major low-brominated congeners, followed by BDE100 and BDE183. This composition is consistent with predominant inputs from the commercial mixtures decaBDE and pentaBDE. The total congener site-averaged fluxes ranged between 100 ng m−2 mo−1 (Alps) and 190 ng m−2 mo−1 (Tatras).

Significant correlations between PBDE deposition and percent of North Atlantic backwards air mass trajectories in the collected samples of the westernmost sites, Lochnagar and Redon, suggested an impact of transcontinental transfer of these pollutants from North American sources into Europe. Skalnate, and to a lower extent Redon, recorded another main PBDE source from central Europe corresponding to secondary emissions of the pentaBDE commercial mixture. The fluxes of these secondary emissions were temperature dependent and correlated to total particle deposition and rainfall. Higher PBDE fluxes were observed at increasing temperature, particle deposition and precipitation. Another specific PBDE source was observed in United Kingdom and recorded in Lochnagar.

Photolytic degradation during transport decreased the relative abundance of BDE209 and modified the emitted pentaBDE technical mixtures by depletion of the relative composition of BDE99 and, to a lower extent, BDE47. The transformations were more intense in the sites located above 2000 m (Redon and Gossenköllesee) and, particularly, during the warm periods.

Final-revised paper