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Persistent organic pollutants in the polar regions and the Tibetan Plateau: A review of current knowledge and future prospects

Wang, Xiaoping, Wang, Chuanfei, Zhu, Tingting, Gong, Ping, Fu, Jianjie, Cong, Zhiyuan
Environmental pollution 2019 v.248 pp. 191-208
DDT (pesticide), HCH (pesticide), air, bioaccumulation, climate change, emissions, food chain, gas exchange, glaciers, melting, models, monitoring, persistent organic pollutants, risk, soil, temperature, Antarctic region, Arctic region, China
Due to their low temperatures, the Arctic, Antarctic and Tibetan Plateau are known as the three polar regions of the Earth. As the most remote regions of the globe, the occurrence of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in these polar regions arouses global concern. In this paper, we review the literatures on POPs involving these three polar regions. Overall, concentrations of POPs in the environment (air, water, soil and biota) have been extensively reported, with higher levels of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) detected on the Tibetan Plateau. The spatial distribution of POPs in air, water and soil in the three polar regions broadly reflects their distances away from source regions. Based on long-term data, decreasing trends have been observed for most “legacy POPs”. Observations of transport processes of POPs among multiple media have also been carried out, including air–water gas exchange, air–soil gas exchange, emissions from melting glaciers, bioaccumulations along food chains, and exposure risks. The impact of climate change on these processes possibly enhances the re-emission processes of POPs out of water, soil and glaciers, and reduces the bioaccumulation of POPs in food chains. Global POPs transport model have shown the Arctic receives a relatively small fraction of POPs, but that climate change will likely increase the total mass of all compounds in this polar region. Considering the impact of climate change on POPs is still unclear, long-term monitoring data and global/regional models are required, especially in the Antarctic and on the Tibetan Plateau, and the fate of POPs in all three polar regions needs to be comprehensively studied and compared to yield a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in the global cycling of POPs.