Mercury and Organochlorines in the Terrestrial Environment of Schirmacher Hills, Antarctica

  • K. L. Subhavana
  • A. QureshiEmail author
  • P. Chakraborty
  • A. K. Tiwari


We report the levels of mercury (Hg) and nine organochlorine pesticides [OCPs: α-hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH), β-HCH, γ-HCH, δ-HCH, α-Endosulfan, β-Endosulfan, Endosulfan sulfate, p,p′-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) and p,p′-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane (DDD)] in the terrestrial environment (moss and soil) and water (OCPs only) of Schirmacher Hills, Antarctica. This area has never been studied for mercury and not for OCPs since 1988. Mercury levels in moss, 66 ± 37 ng/g dry weight (dw), are comparable to other Antarctic locations. Levels of α-HCH, below detection to 4.48 ng/g dw, and p,p′-DDE, below detection to 31 ng/g dw, in mosses are lower or marginally higher than other Antarctic locations. No other OCPs were detected in moss. None of the OCPs were detected in soil. This suggests that Schirmacher Hills may be considered as a background site with respect to mercury and analyzed OCPs, despite the operation of two old research stations (Maitri, est. 1989, and Novolazarevskaya, est. 1961) in the region.


Antarctica Schirmacher Hills Mercury Organochlorine pesticides 



Funding was provided by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) India-Inspire grant (IFA-13 EAS-10) to AQ, the Center of Excellence in Sustainable Development at IIT Hyderabad, the Earth System Science Organization-Ministry of Earth Sciences (ESSO-MoES) for the Indian Antarctic Expedition 2015-16, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) fellowship to KLS, and DST Fast Track Grant under Young Scientist Scheme to PC (SR/FTP/EE-44/2012). We thank the Director and Logistics team of NCAOR for support during the expedition, and Lohit Pranav for help in collecting some samples.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) HyderabadSangareddyIndia
  2. 2.SRM UniversityKancheepuramIndia
  3. 3.National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR)Vasco da GamaIndia

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