Altitudinal and Seasonal variations of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the Bolivian Andean Mountains

Mauricio Ernesto Zaballa Romero

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Polyurethane foam disk passive air samplers were deployed over four periods of approximately 3 months along an altitudinal gradient (1820, 2600, 4650, and 5200 masl) on the east side of the Andean mountain range in Bolivia. The purpose of the study was to assess the gas-phase concentration and the altitudinal and seasonal trends of organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Target compounds that were regularly detected included α-and γ-hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH), endosulfans, and select PCB congeners. Endosulfans and HCH concentrations increased with altitude. Enrichment factors (concentration at the highest altitude divided by concentration at the lowest altitude) ranged from 10 to 20 for HCHs and 3 to10 for endosulfans. Air parcel back trajectory analysis indicated that, in general, the high-altitude sites were exposed to a larger airshed and hence susceptible to long-range atmospheric transport from more distant regions. Seasonal differences were also observed with ΣHCH concentrations peaking during periods 2 and 3 (March-September 2005). Airsheds
(derived from the analysis of back trajectories) for periods 2 and 3 were less oriented along the Andes range (mountain air) with greater input from coastal regions. Endosulfans peaked during periods 1 and 2 (February-June 2005) and also exhibited the highest air concentrations of the target compounds, reaching ∼1500 pg/m3 at the two highest elevation sites. PCB air concentrations at all sites were generally typical of global background values (<12 pg/m3) and showed no increase
with altitude. This is the first study to measure air concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Bolivia and one of only a few studies to investigate altitudinal gradients of POPs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology (Washington)
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)2528–2534
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

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