Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 8, pp 7356–7363 | Cite as

Elucidation of contamination sources for poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) on Svalbard (Norwegian Arctic)

  • Jøran Solnes Skaar
  • Erik Magnus Ræder
  • Jan Ludvig Lyche
  • Lutz Ahrens
  • Roland KallenbornEmail author
Advancements in chemical methods for environmental research


A combination of local (i.e. firefighting training facilities) and remote sources (i.e. long-range transport) is assumed to be responsible for the occurrence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in Svalbard (Norwegian Arctic). However, no systematic elucidation of local PFASs sources has been conducted yet. Therefore, a survey was performed aiming at identifying local PFAS pollution sources on the island of Spitsbergen (Svalbard, Norway). Soil, freshwater (lake, draining rivers), seawater, meltwater run-off, surface snow and coastal sediment samples were collected from Longyearbyen (Norwegian mining town), Ny-Ålesund (research facility) and the Lake Linnévatnet area (background site) during several campaigns (2014–2016) and analysed for 14 individual target PFASs. For background site (Linnévatnet area, sampling during April to June 2015), ΣPFAS levels ranged from 0.4 to 4 ng/L in surface lake water (n = 20). PFAS in meltwater from the contributing glaciers showed similar concentrations (~ 4 ng/L, n = 2). The short-chain perfluorobutanoate (PFBA) was predominant in lake water (60–80% of the ΣPFASs), meltwater (20–30%) and run-off water (40%). Long-range transport is assumed to be the major PFAS source. In Longyearbyen, five water samples (i.e. 2 seawater, 3 run-off) were collected near the local firefighting training site (FFTS) in November 2014 and June 2015, respectively. The highest PFAS levels were found in FFTS meltwater run-off (118 ng/L). Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) was the most abundant compound in the FFTS meltwater run-off (53–58% PFASs). At the research station Ny-Ålesund, seawater (n = 6), soil (n = 9) and freshwater (n = 10) were collected in June 2016. Low ΣPFAS concentrations were determined for seawater (5–6 ng/L), whereas high ΣPFAS concentrations were found in run-off water (113–119 ng/L) and soil (211–800 ng/g dry weight (dw)) collected close to the local FFTS. In addition, high ΣPFAS levels (127 ng/L) were also found in freshwater from lake Solvatnet close to former sewage treatment facility. Overall, at both FFTS-affected sites (soil, water), PFOS was the most abundant compound (60–69% of ΣPFASs). FFTS and landfill locations were identified as major PFAS sources for Svalbard settlements.


Arctic Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances PFASs Local sources Pollutants Environment Svalbard Source elucidation 



We thank the UNIS laboratory engineer Jessica Bosch and PhD scientist Tatiana Drotikova for the laboratory and logistical support during sample preparation at UNIS. The NMBU Master student Stig Magnus Lunde and the SLU Master students Jelena Rakovic and Siri Axelsson supported the field work at the Lake Linnévatnet location. The Lake Linnévatnet and Longyearbyen results were produced as a Master of Science thesis of Jøran Solnes Skaar at the Faculty of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Sciences (KBM) of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in close collaboration with the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences. The authors appreciate the open and trustful collaboration with Kings Bay AS and UNIS logistics during the sampling campaigns. The University Centre in Svalbard allowed access to the Environmental Chemistry laboratory for sample preparation and storage.

Funding information

The here performed study was financially supported by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP)/Nordic Council of Ministers (RCN): Project Combined effects of Pollutants and Climate in the Arctic (2014-2016); KingsBay, Ny-Ålesund: Local PFAS contamination in Ny-Ålesund; and Research Council of Norway (RCN): BareLab - Integration of the New Lab Facility for Chemical Analyses in Barentsburg in the International Cooperation in the Arctic. The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) supported the study with internal funding.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_2162_MOESM1_ESM.docx (24.8 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 25348 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jøran Solnes Skaar
    • 1
    • 2
  • Erik Magnus Ræder
    • 3
  • Jan Ludvig Lyche
    • 3
  • Lutz Ahrens
    • 4
  • Roland Kallenborn
    • 2
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU)KjellerNorway
  2. 2.Faculty of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Sciences (KBM)Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)ÅsNorway
  3. 3.Faculty of Veterinary MedicineNorwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)OsloNorway
  4. 4.Department of Aquatic Sciences and AssessmentSwedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)UppsalaSweden
  5. 5.Department of Arctic Technology (AT)University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)LongyearbyenNorway

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