The proposed work aims to develop novel analytical and experimental techniques for persistent organic substances that can be included in future risk assessment methodologies. Perfluorinated Carboxylic Acids (PFCAs) are ubiquitous environmental chemicals, chemically and thermally stable, with known or suspected toxic and bioaccumulative properties.
Moreover, their discovery in remote/pristine areas with no local sources indicates continental-scale transport. Our research plan proposes the compilation of a global PFCA source and sink inventory in order to account for all possible environmental release pathways and assess the risk they pose to humans and other biotic and abiotic media.
The inventory can provide invaluable insights into the magnitude of different manufacturing and release mechanisms as well as determine the relative importance of competing transport routes. The proposal also involves novel experimental work aiming to better understand the long-range transport mechanisms of PFCAs.
Thus, two unique experiments are currently planned involving:
- Simulation of aerosol formation through bubble bursting in the laboratory and investigation of the mechanism of sorption of PFCAs to aerosols of marine origin. The extent to which the sea surface can supply the atmosphere with organic-rich particles that could partly contribute to the large-scale transport of fluorinated products will be quantified.
- Measurements of PFCAs in air masses moving over sites in southern Sweden and Northern Finland. It will be our intention to determine whether they are lost by deposition processes or introduced by aerosol emissions as air masses move from south to north.
The results from the second stage will allow us to evaluate if aerosol transport is responsible for the dispersal of PFCAs globally and in particular to Arctic regions. To our knowledge, such an attempt has never previously been undertaken for fluorinated compounds constituting an ambitious research approach.
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