Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 18, Issue 7, pp 1057–1069 | Cite as

Occurrence of perfluorinated organic acids in the North and Baltic seas. Part 1: distribution in sea water

  • Norbert Theobald
  • Christina Caliebe
  • Wolfgang Gerwinski
  • Heinrich Hühnerfuss
  • Peter Lepom
Research Article

Abstract

Purpose

Due to their high water solubilities and mobilities, persistent, polar perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) such as perfluorinated carboxylates and sulfonates are likely to end up in the oceans. In part 1 of this study, their distribution in North and Baltic Sea water is reported, being of special interest because these seas are surrounded by highly industrialized countries with high population densities.

Methods

A combination of solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry was used after optimisation to determine nine PFCs with chain lengths of C4 to C10 in water samples at ultra-trace levels.

Results

The observed concentration distribution and gradients were explained by oceanographic mixing processes and currents. The big rivers were identified as major input sources. At the mouth of the river Elbe, concentrations of 9 ng/L were observed for perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), and 8 ng/L for perfluorooctylsulfonate (PFOS); all other PFC concentrations ranged from 0.6 to 1.7 ng/L. At coastal stations, concentrations decreased to 3.8 ng/L (PFOA) and 1.8 ng/L (PFOS), dropping to 0.13 and 0.09 ng/L, respectively, towards the open sea. Along the Dutch coast, high perfluorobutylsulfonate concentrations (3.9 ng/L) were observed as regional characteristics. In the Baltic Sea, fairly even PFC distributions with low gradients were observed. Again, PFOA and PFOS were the major compounds (up to 1.1 and 0.9 ng/L).

Conclusion

The results underline the necessity to include PFCs in marine monitoring programs. Water was found to be a good matrix for monitoring environmental levels, sources, and transport pathways of PFCs.

Keywords

Perfluorinated compounds PFC PFOA PFOS North Sea Baltic Sea Sea water 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norbert Theobald
    • 1
  • Christina Caliebe
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Gerwinski
    • 1
  • Heinrich Hühnerfuss
    • 2
  • Peter Lepom
    • 3
  1. 1.Federal Maritime and Hydrographic AgencyHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Federal Environment AgencyBerlinGermany

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