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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Atmospheric short-chain-chlorinated paraffins in Melbourne, Australia – first extensive Southern Hemisphere observations

Robert W. Gillett A D , Ian E. Galbally A , Melita D. Keywood A , Jennifer C. Powell A , Gavin Stevenson B , Alan Yates B and Anders R. Borgen C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CSIRO Climate Science Centre, 107–121 Station Street, Aspendale, Vic. 3195, Australia.

B National Measurement Institute, 105 Delhi Road, North Ryde, NSW 2113, Australia.

C Norwegian Institute for Air Research, PO Box 100, Kjeller 2007, Norway.

D Corresponding author. Email: rob.gillett@csiro.au

Environmental Chemistry 14(2) 106-114 https://doi.org/10.1071/EN16152
Submitted: 7 September 2016  Accepted: 12 November 2016   Published: 20 December 2016

Environmental context. This study presents the first comprehensive set of ambient atmospheric concentrations of short-chain-chlorinated paraffins in the Southern Hemisphere. The data show a seasonal cycle with a summer maximum and a winter minimum. The seasonal cycle is consistent with temperature dependence of the vapour pressure of the short-chain-chlorinated paraffins resulting in partitioning between the atmosphere and other reservoirs with a secondary modulation by soil moisture.

Abstract. The first extensive measurements of short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) in the atmosphere of the Southern Hemisphere are presented. The analytical and sampling methodologies used in this Australian study were verified by systematic testing along with two inter-comparisons with Northern Hemisphere laboratories with established SCCP programs. In the ambient atmosphere of Melbourne, Australia, in 2013–14, there was a clear seasonal cycle in SCCP monthly averaged concentrations, these ranging from 28.4 ng m–3 in summer to 1.8 ng m–3 in winter. Air temperature was the factor most closely related to the seasonal cycle in SCCPs in Melbourne. The average SCCP concentrations observed indoors were less than those observed outdoors. Atmospheric concentrations of SCCPs in Melbourne are more than two orders of magnitude higher than concentrations in the background atmosphere. Surprisingly, the SCCP concentrations in Melbourne are similar to those observed in cities in Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom, and less than those observed in China. Direct transport of SCCPs in the atmosphere from the Northern Hemisphere emissions to Melbourne is ruled out. Instead elevated concentrations in the Melbourne air-shed are most likely a result of the long-term import of SCCPs as industrial chemicals and within manufactured materials from the Northern Hemisphere so that the use of SCCPs in Melbourne and their consequent release to the environment has produced environmental reservoirs of SCCPs in Melbourne that are comparable with those in some Northern Hemisphere cities. The increase in SCCP concentrations from winter to summer is consistent with the temperature dependence of partitioning of SCCPs between the atmosphere and other reservoirs. Insufficient information exists on SCCP use and its presence in soils and sediments in Australia to indicate whether the atmospheric presence of SCCPs in Melbourne is a legacy issue due to its import and use as a metal cutting agent in past decades or due to ongoing imports of manufactured materials containing SCCPs today.

Additional keywords: ambient concentrations of SCCPs, contamination of SCCPs during sampling, effects of temperature and soil moisture on SCCP concentrations, gas and aerosol partitioning of SCCPs, indoor–outdoor ratios of SCCPs, repeatability of SCCP measurements.


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