Priority Pollutants of the Arctic Territories
1. Priority Pollutants of the Arctic TerritoriesLecturer – Maria Nikitina
2. Course DescriptionECTS credits:
Total – 3 ECTS
Contact – 1 ECTS (3L, 7Lab
Independent – 2 ECTS
Duration (1 semester/ 1 year)
Semester/trimester when the course is delivered
Study place / Location
Institute of Natural Science and
Responsible chair / department
Chair of chemistry and
(auditorium chair 5508;
laborotory room 1204)
Name of lecturer
Type of course unit (compulsory, optional, elective)
Mode of delivery (face-to-face, blended, distance learning)
3. General description• The course focuses on the study
of the current state of the
biosphere and chemical pollution
of the Arctic ecosystems.
• Sources, types and pathways of
chemical pollution will be
4. Course contents1 . Introduction.
• General ecological characteristics of the Arctic region.
• The main sources of pollution of Arctic ecosystems.
• Tracks of major pollutants.
2 . Heavy metals as the pollutants of Arctic Region.
• The main sources of heavy metals in the Arctic.
• Atmospheric emissions and geochemical cycles of heavy metals.
• Transformation forms of heavy metals.
3. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
• Physical and chemical characteristics of POPs.
• The main sources of POPs in the Arctic.
• Pathways of POPs in the Arctic.
4. Radionuclides in the Arctic.
• The main sources of radionuclides.
• Impact on the environment and biota.
5. Assessment methods and criteriaCourse examinations may be report, written
test, assessments of lab reports or field
Final certification is the multilevel test in
the 2nd semester of the master degree.
6. Mandatory reading• Quante M., Ebinghaus R., Flöser G. Persistent Pollution – Past,
Present and Future. – Springer Link, 2011. – 417 p. Retrieved from
• Lichtfouse E., Schwarzbauer J., Robert D. Environmental Chemistry
for a Sustainable World. Volume 2: Remediation of Air and Water
Pollution. – Springer Link, 2012. – 548 p. Retrieved from
• Alloway B. (Ed.) Heavy Metals in Soils. Trace Metals and Metalloids
in Soils and their Bioavailability. – Springer Link, 2013. – 613 p.
Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-94-0074470-7.
Johannessen O., Volkov V., Pettersson M.. Radioactivity and
Pollution in the Nordic Seas and Arctic Region. Observations,
Modeling, and Simulations. – Springer Link, 2010. – 215 p.
Retrieved from: http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-54049856-8.
7. Recommended reading
Ibanez J.G., Hernandez-Esparza M., Doria-Serrano C., Fregoso-Infante A., Singh
M.M Environmental Chemistry. – Springer Link, 2008. - Retrieved from
Bottenheim J, Dastoor A., Gong S., Higuchi K., Li Y. Long Range Transport of Air
Pollution to the Arctic. – Springer Link, 2004. Retrieved from:
Kondratyev K, Varotsos C., Krapivin V., Savinykh V. High-latitude environment and
global ecodynamics. – Springer Link, 2004. Retrieved from:
Derome J., Lukina N. Interaction Between Environmental Pollution and LandCover/Land-Use Change in Arctic Areas. – Springer Link, 2004. Retrieved from:
Fabian P., Dameris M. Ozone in the Atmosphere. Basic Principles, Natural and
Human Impacts. – Springer Link, 2014. Retrieved from:
Viana M. (Ed.) Urban Air Quality in Europe. – Springer Link, 2013. Retrieved from:
Kim Y., Platt U. (Eds.) Advanced Environmental Monitoring. – Springer Link, 2008.
Retrieved from: http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-1-4020-6364-0 .
8. Lecture 1.Lecture № 1.
9. Definition of the Arctic region• The Arctic is often delimited by the Arctic Circle
(66°32'N), which approximates the southern
boundary of the midnight sun.
• Environmental contaminants are a global
problem. Their presence and role in the Arctic
reflects the physical, biological, and social
characteristics of the region, as well as the way
the Arctic interacts with the rest of the world.
10. Definition of the Arctic region10
11. Arctic Region• Polar ecosystems exist under extreme
environmental conditions, including cold
temperatures, large seasonal fluctuations in
incoming solar radiation, extensive snow and ice
cover, and short growing seasons.
• The Arctic region also includes the tundra —
meaning “treeless plain”— ecosystem.
• One defining characteristic of the arctic tundra is
its permafrost, permanently frozen ground that
occurs from several inches below the surface to
depths of more than 1000 feet.
12. Arctic Region• The arctic tundra is circumpolar, meaning
that it is an ecosystem surrounding the
polar region, above roughly 60 degrees
north latitude. The Arctic circle occurs at
66 degrees north latitude.
13. Arctic Region• These conditions affect the productivity,
species diversity, wildlife behavior (e.g.,
migration), and food chain characteristics
of Arctic and subarctic ecosystems. These
effects have implications on contaminant
transfer and storage in Arctic biota, and on
the sensitivity of Arctic ecosystems to
contaminants and other stressors.
14. 2. General ecological characteristics of Arctic ecosystems relevant to contaminants and other stressors1. Low productivity
• Productivity in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine
environments is reduced due to limited nutrient
availability, low light, low temperatures, ice cover, and
short growing seasons. The low productivity in the Arctic
results in slower-growing and longer-lived poikilotherms
than in temperate climates.
16. 2. General ecological characteristics of Arctic ecosystems relevant to contaminants and other stressors2. Bioaccumulation and biomagnification
Levels of some contaminants, particularly metals,
in specific tissues and organs of a number of
temperate and Arctic species increase with age.
This is due to bioaccumulation, i.e., increases in
contaminant concentrations in biota with
continued exposure over time.
Some organic contaminants become further
concentrated in animals with each successive
step up a food chain, a process called
18. 2. General ecological characteristics of Arctic ecosystems relevant to contaminants and other stressors3. Cyclic annual productivity
Arctic ecosystems are highly cyclic due to seasonal
fluctuations in light levels, nutrient inputs, and temperature.
Nutrients and contaminants deposited on snow, ice, soil, and
plants during the Arctic winter can be mobilized and
assimilated very quickly in the spring when sunlight returns
and temperatures rise.
In freshwater systems, the spring melt carries nutrients and
some contaminants into streams, ponds, and lakes.
19. 2. General ecological characteristics of Arctic ecosystems relevant to contaminants and other stressors4. Low species diversity
• The low species diversity in the Arctic is a
consequence of low absolute productivity and
recent glaciations. In contrast, the Antarctic
marine environment which has not experienced
such glaciations, has considerably higher
biological diversity and an accompanying higher
degree of specialization
• The low diversity in the Arctic is associated with
opportunistic and invading species that are
adapted to survive successfully under a range of
20. 3. The Main Sources of Pollution of Arctic Ecosystems
Air pollution/Arctic haze
Ocean garbage and sewage
21. 3. Sources outside the ArcticOutside of the Arctic, sources exist for a number of the
persistent organic pollutants (POPs); the main
contaminants of concern are: organochlorine pesticides
(e.g., HCH) and their metabolites from agricultural
activities/ practices; industrial chemicals (e.g., PCBs);
and anthropogenic and natural combustion products,
e.g. chlorinated dioxins/furans and polycyclic aromatic
22. 3. Sources within, or in close proximity to, the Arctic:• PCBs from decommissioned DEW (Distant Early
Warning) Line sites in Canada, and dioxins/furans from
smelters in Norway are examples of identified sources of
POPs within the Arctic; other such sources probably
exist but are presently unknown.
• Two-thirds of heavy metals in air in the High Arctic
originate from industrial activities on the Kola Peninsula,
the Norilsk industrial complex, the Urals (outside the
Arctic) and the Pechora Basin.
• At point sources such as mine sites, heavy metals may
exceed local background concentrations at distances up
to 30 km from the site. Mineralization of geological
formations provides significant, non-anthropogenic local
inputs of heavy metals.
23. Contaminant pathways• The Arctic is a focus for major atmospheric, riverine, and
marine pathways which result in the long-range transport
of contaminants into and within the Arctic. The Arctic is,
therefore, a potential contaminant storage reservoir
and/or sink. Various processes remove these
contaminants from the atmosphere, oceans and rivers
and make them available to plants and animals. Food
chains are the major biological pathways for selective
uptake, transfer, and sometimes magnification of
contaminants by Arctic plants and animals, many of
which are subsequently consumed by Arctic peoples.