University of Oulu

Carlsson, P., Breivik, K., Brorström-Lundén, E. et al. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2018) 25: 22499.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as sentinels for the elucidation of Arctic environmental change processes : a comprehensive review combined with ArcRisk project results

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Author: Carlsson, Pernilla1; Breivik, Knut2; Brorström-Lundén, Eva3;
Organizations: 1Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), 0349 Oslo, Norway
2NILU - Norwegian Institute for Air Research, 2027 Kjeller, Norway
3IVL Swedish Environment Research Institute, 411 33 Göteborg, Sweden
4Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry (ACES), Stockholm University, 11418 Stockholm, Sweden
5Department of Bioscience, Arctic Research Centre, Aarhus University, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
6Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDÆA), Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), 0834 Barcelona, Spain
7Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK
8Faculty of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Sciences (KBM), Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Christian Magnus Falsen Veg 1, 1432 Ås, Norway
9Department of Arctic Technology (AT), University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), 9171 Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway
10Department of Pesticides, Menoufia University, P.O. Box 32511, Shebeen El-Kom, Egypt
11Arctic Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
12Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, 55128 Mainz, Germany
13Research Centre for Toxic Compounds in the Environment, Masaryk University, 62500 Brno, Czech Republic
14Department of Community Medicine, UiT - The Arctic University of Norway, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
15Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), AMAP Secretariat, Gaustadalléen 21, 0349 Oslo, Norway
16Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
17Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, Institute of Chemical and Bioengineering, ETH Zürich, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
18Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, Worblentalstrasse 68, 3063 Ittigen, Switzerland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-10-03


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can be used as chemical sentinels for the assessment of anthropogenic influences on Arctic environmental change. We present an overview of studies on PCBs in the Arctic and combine these with the findings from ArcRisk—a major European Union-funded project aimed at examining the effects of climate change on the transport of contaminants to and their behaviour of in the Arctic—to provide a case study on the behaviour and impact of PCBs over time in the Arctic. PCBs in the Arctic have shown declining trends in the environment over the last few decades. Atmospheric long-range transport from secondary and primary sources is the major input of PCBs to the Arctic region. Modelling of the atmospheric PCB composition and behaviour showed some increases in environmental concentrations in a warmer Arctic, but the general decline in PCB levels is still the most prominent feature. ‘Within-Arctic’ processing of PCBs will be affected by climate change-related processes such as changing wet deposition. These in turn will influence biological exposure and uptake of PCBs. The pan-Arctic rivers draining large Arctic/sub-Arctic catchments provide a significant source of PCBs to the Arctic Ocean, although changes in hydrology/sediment transport combined with a changing marine environment remain areas of uncertainty with regard to PCB fate. Indirect effects of climate change on human exposure, such as a changing diet will influence and possibly reduce PCB exposure for indigenous peoples. Body burdens of PCBs have declined since the 1980s and are predicted to decline further.

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Series: Environmental science and pollution research
ISSN: 0944-1344
ISSN-E: 1614-7499
ISSN-L: 0944-1344
Volume: 25
Issue: 23
Pages: 22499 - 22528
DOI: 10.1007/s11356-018-2625-7
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
Funding: Arctic Health Risks: Impacts on health in the Arctic and Europe owing to climate-induced changes in contaminant cycling (ArcRisk) was funded by the Seventh European Research Framework Programme (FP-7) (Grant agreement 226534). The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) provided the professional network and the Coordinator for the ArcRisk project. The Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) as well as the Research Council of Norway (RCN) provided funding for several supporting studies reported here. The significant in-kind contributions of all institutions (see author list) involved in ArcRisk and other projects reported here are greatly appreciated.
EU Grant Number: (226534) ARCRISK - Arctic Health Risks: Impacts on health in the Arctic and Europe owing to climate-induced changes in contaminant cycling
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2018. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.