Chemosphere, 73(10):1589-93, Elsevier Ltd, 11, 2008. Paper Website abstract bibtex
Lichens and mosses are considered good indicators of atmospheric pollution as they absorb contaminants directly from the air. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are man-made chemicals used as flame retardants in materials such as plastics, textiles, electronic circuitry and furnishing foam. Few studies have investigated PBDEs in the southern hemisphere including Antarctica. This paper presents the first evaluation of PBDEs in lichens (Usnea antarctica and Usnea aurantiaco-atra) and mosses (Sanionia uncinata) collected at King George Island, maritime Antarctica. PBDEs were detected at low levels in all lichen and moss samples. On average, the levels of PBDEs in mosses (818 pg g(-1) dry weight; 101 ng g(-1) lipid) were significantly higher than in lichens (168 pg g(-1) dry weight; 9.11 ng g(-1) lipid). This difference is most likely due to the differing mechanisms of PBDEs uptake from the atmosphere which are controlled by a number of chemical, environmental and plant variables. Contaminant concentrations were not statistically different at sites close to and distant from human facilities. Long-range atmospheric transport is believed to be the primary source of PBDEs to King George Island. The pattern of congeners in plants resembles those found in commercial mixtures of Penta-BDE. In addition, the presence of BDE-183 in lichens and mosses suggests that other technical formulations (e.g., Octa-BDE and Deca-BDE) have reached Antarctica. Further studies are needed to better understand the role of Antarctic vegetation as a sink for anthropogenic organic pollutants.