Antarctica is one of the last frontiers of the planet to be investigated for the environmental transport and accumulation of persistent organic pollutants. Perfluorinated contaminants (PFCs) are a group of widely used anthropogenic substances, representing a significant risk to wildlife and humans due to their high biomagnification potential and toxicity risks, especially in food webs of the northern hemisphere and Arctic. Because the assessment of PFCs in the Antarctic continent is scarce, questions linger about the long-range transport and bioaccumulation capacity of PFCs in Antarctic food webs. To better understand the global environmental fate of PFCs, sediment, lichen (Usnea aurantiaco-atra), and seabird samples (southern giant petrel, Macronectes giganteus; gentoo penguin, Pygoscelis papua) were collected around the Antarctic Peninsula in 2009. PFC analytes were analyzed by LC/MS/MS, revealing the detection of PFHpA in seabirds’ feather and fecal samples, and PFHxS in lichens. PFBA and PFPeA were detected in 80% and 60% of the lichens, and PFTA in 60% of sediment samples. While oceanic currents and atmospheric transport of PFCs may explain the ubiquitous nature of these contaminants in the Antarctic Peninsula, military bases and research stations established there may also be contributing as secondary sources of PFCs in the Antarctic ecosystem.
Part of the book: Emerging Pollutants in the Environment