Chiral PCB signatures in air and soil: implications for atmospheric source apportionment

Matthew Robson, Stuart Harrad

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    83 Citations (Scopus)


    Enantiomeric fractions (EFs) of chiral PCBs 95, 136, and 149 were measured in samples of topsoil and outdoor air at one urban and one rural location in the U.K. West Midlands between early 2001 and early 2002. While EFs in air were essentially racemic, those in topsoil indicated appreciable enantioenrichment of the second eluting enantiomer for PCB 95 and the H enantiomer for PCBs 136 and 149. This suggests (i) that essentially all atmospheric PCBs at both sites arise from racemic (i.e, primary) sources, rather than volatilization from soil and (ii) that appreciable enantioselective degradation of the monitored PCBs in topsoil occurs. This is one of only two reports of enantioselective degradation of PGBs in soil worldwide and is particularly noteworthy as it is occurring at PCB concentrations (e.g., 5.9 pg g(-1) for PCB 136) that are typical of the U.K. and other industrialized countries. The extent of enantioselective degradation in this study for PCBs 95 and 136 is consistent with those reported for soils in the Greater Toronto area (GTA). In contrast, enantioselective degradation of PCB 149 observed in this study is while consistent with that reported for U.K. lacustrine sediments-in excess of that observed in either the GTA soil study or in U.S. lake sediments.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1662-1666
    Number of pages5
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


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