Sci Total Environ. 2022 Oct 26:159709. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.159709. Online ahead of print.
In recent years, there is increasing attention on the contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), which include plasticizers, flame retardants, industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products, since they have been detected even far away from pollution sources. The polar regions are not exempt from the presence of anthropogenic contaminants, and they are employed as a model for understanding the pollutant fate and impact. During the 2021 spring campaign, sixteen surface snow samples were collected close to the research station of Ny-Ålesund located on the Spitsbergen Island of the Norwegian Svalbard Archipelago. The samples were extracted by solid-phase extraction and analyzed by liquid chromatography-high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS/MS) following an untargeted approach. Compound tentative identification was obtained with the aid of the software Compound Discoverer, using both mass spectral database search and manual validation. Among the 114 compounds identified with a high confidence level in the snow samples, >80 have some commercial or industrial use (drugs, plasticizers, fragrances, etc.), therefore they could be of anthropogenic origin. Nonetheless, a clear contamination trend did not appear in the snow samples collected on eight different days during one month. The comparison with aerosol samples collected in the same area did not help identifying the source, either, since only a few compounds were in common, and they were mainly of natural origin. As such, the analysis of aerosol sample did not support possible long-range transport, also considering that compounds were detected mostly in the coarse fraction.