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Research article2019Peer reviewedOpen access

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

Skaar, Joran Solnes; Raeder, Erik Magnus; Lyche, Jan Ludvig; Ahrens, Lutz; Kallenborn, Roland


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-angstrom lesund (research facility) and the Lake Linnevatnet area (background site) during several campaigns (2014-2016) and analysed for 14 individual target PFASs. For background site (Linnevatnet area, sampling during April to June 2015), sigma PFAS levels ranged from 0.4 to 4ng/L in surface lake water (n=20). PFAS in meltwater from the contributing glaciers showed similar concentrations (similar to 4ng/L, n=2). The short-chain perfluorobutanoate (PFBA) was predominant in lake water (60-80% of the sigma PFASs), 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 (118ng/L). Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) was the most abundant compound in the FFTS meltwater run-off (53-58% PFASs). At the research station Ny-angstrom lesund, seawater (n=6), soil (n=9) and freshwater (n=10) were collected in June 2016. Low sigma PFAS concentrations were determined for seawater (5-6ng/L), whereas high sigma PFAS concentrations were found in run-off water (113-119ng/L) and soil (211-800ng/g dry weight (dw)) collected close to the local FFTS. In addition, high sigma PFAS levels (127ng/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 sigma PFASs). 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

Published in

Environmental Science and Pollution Research
2019, Volume: 26, number: 8, pages: 7356-7363

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG3 Good health and well-being
    SDG6 Clean water and sanitation
    SDG14 Life below water

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Analytical Chemistry

    Publication identifier


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