Atmospheric levels of chlorinated paraffins (CPs) at five remote, six rural and four urban sites in Australia were measured using XAD-2 passive air samplers (XAD-PAS). While long-chain CP (LCCP, C>17) levels were below method detection limits (MDLs), short-chain CPs (SCCPs, C10-13) and, for the first time, medium-chain CPs (MCCPs, C14-17) and CPs with a carbon chain length of nine (CP–C9) were found at many sites (88%, 81% and 88%, respectively) across the Australian continent, representing a range of environmental conditions. Applying preliminary sampling rates of the XAD-PAS for CPs, gaseous CP levels in Australian air were <MDL-1.3 and <MDL-1.8 ng/m3 for ΣSCCPs and ΣMCCPs, respectively, with a significant decreasing trend from more densely to less densely populated areas. Atmospheric median levels in this study (0.37 and 0.47 ng/m3 for SCCPs and MCCPs, respectively) were at the lower end of the median range (0.32–10 and 3.0–4.2 ng/m3 for SCCPs and MCCPs, respectively) reported for CPs at predominantly urban or industrial sites elsewhere (apart from China and extremely remote sites such as Antarctica). Principal component analysis matched the SCCP and MCCP congener group patterns in samples with those found in commercial mixtures, indicating a prevalence of less chlorinated congener groups in the Australian atmosphere. Information about the Australian production, use and disposal of CPs as well as their levels in other environmental matrices, including humans, is needed for assessing their emissions, behaviour, fate and potential exposure.
- Chlorinated paraffins (CPs)
- Polychlorinated n-alkanes (PCAs)