Evaluation of environmental fate and sinks of PCDD/Fs during specific extreme weather events in Taiwan

Kai Hsien Chi, Chuan Yao Lin, Chang Feng Ou Yang, Shih Chieh Hsu, Ya Fang Chen, Shangde Luo, Shuh Ji Kao

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11 Scopus citations


Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) are persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that are formed and released unintentionally from anthropogenic sources. The high persistence of PCDD/Fs results in the concentrations of these contaminants in environment decreasing only very slowly. Two transport pathways, air and water, carry PCDD/Fs into all regions of the world. Recently, more frequent extreme weather events, such as storms and floods, have been projected to occur as a result of global warming. Extreme weather events have a documented impact on the remobilization and subsequent bioavailability of POPs. In this study, three specific episodes, namely winter monsoon, southeast biomass burning and tropical cyclone (typhoon) events, which influence the environmental fate and transport of PCDD/Fs in Taiwan, were evaluated based on a climate change scenario. During the winter (northeast) monsoon period, the temperature and relative humidity observed in northern Taiwan decreases sharply. During this time, the quantity of PCDD/Fs adsorbed onto suspended particles, as observed at background sites, was found to increase from 300±127 to 630±115pgI-TEQg-TSP-1, which is even higher than that measured in Taipei City (438±80pgI-TEQg-TSP-1). Hence, the winter monsoon not only brings cold air but also transports air pollutants and dust over long distances from mainland China to Taiwan. During the 2010 Southeast Asia biomass burning events (2010/3/22-3/28), the level of atmospheric PCDD/Fs were measured in central Taiwan (Mt. Lulin) and in the source region of northern Thailand (Chiang Mai); this revealed that the variations in atmospheric PCDD/F concentrations at these two sites followed a similar pattern. On 25 March 2010, the atmospheric PCDD/F concentration increased dramatically from 1.43 to 6.09fg I-TEQm-3 at Mt. Lulin and from 7.64 to 12.1fgI-TEQm-3 in northern Thailand. However, the atmospheric PCDD/F concentration decreased dramatically 1day after the biomass burning event. Based on the measurements from a dated sediment core collected at a reservoir in northern Taiwan, the sharp increases in input fluxes of PCDD/Fs and mineral-derived elements levels in 1990 (20ngI-TEQm-2year-1), 2001 (17ngI-TEQm-2year-1), 2004 (16ngI-TEQm-2year-1) and 2005 (15ngI-TEQm-2year-1) seem to be a result of a deep turbid layer formed upstream due to landslides and/or mud flows during the typhoon season. This finding demonstrates the effect of typhoon events on the long-term remobilization of PCDD/Fs as well as supporting the hypothesis that such events would have the potential to remobilize pollutants that have been deposited previously.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-280
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
StatePublished - 5 Nov 2013


  • Biomass burning
  • Climate change
  • Dioxin
  • Extreme weather
  • Long-range transport


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