Journal: Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 53, 2375–2382, 2019
Two decades of atmospheric measurements of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were conducted at three Arctic sites, i.e., Alert, Canada; Zeppelin, Svalbard; and Pallas, Finland. PAH concentrations decrease with increasing latitude in the order of Pallas > Zeppelin > Alert. Forest fire was identified as an important contributing source. Three representative PAHs, phenanthrene (PHE), pyrene (PYR), and benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) were selected for the assessment of their long-term trends. Significant decline of these PAHs was not observed contradicting the expected decline due to PAH emission reductions. A global 3-D transport model was employed to simulate the concentrations of these three PAHs at the three sites. The model predicted that warming in the Arctic would cause the air concentrations of PHE and PYR to increase in the Arctic atmosphere, while that of BaP, which tends to be particle-bound, is less affected by temperature. The expected decline due to the reduction of global PAH emissions is offset by the increment of volatilization caused by warming. This work shows that this phenomenon may affect the environmental occurrence of other anthropogenic substances, such as more volatile flame retardants and pesticides.