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Tracing Organophosphate Ester Pollutants in Hadal TrenchesDistribution, Possible Origins, and Transport Mechanisms

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posted on 2024-02-16, 11:29 authored by Jingqian Xie, Gaoxin Zhang, Chuchu Chen, Min Luo, Hongzhou Xu, Duofu Chen, Rulong Liu, Yingming Li, Qinghua Zhang, Yu Zhang, Xiaotong Peng, Lisheng He, Tian Lin, Guibin Jiang
Unraveling the mysterious pathways of pollutants to the deepest oceanic realms holds critical importance for assessing the integrity of remote marine ecosystems. This study tracks the transport of pollutants into the depths of the oceans, a key step in protecting the sanctity of these least explored ecosystems. By analyzing hadal trench samples from the Mariana, Mussau, and New Britain trenches, we found the widespread distribution of organophosphate ester (OPE) flame retardants but a complex transport pattern for the OPE in these regions. In the Mariana Trench seawater column, OPE concentrations range between 17.4 and 102 ng L–1, with peaks at depths of 500 and 4000 m, which may be linked to Equatorial Undercurrent and topographic Rossby waves, respectively. Sediments, particularly in Mariana (422 ng g–1 dw), showed high OPE affinity, likely due to organic matter serving as a transport medium, influenced by “solvent switching”, “solvent depletion”, and “filtering processes”. Amphipods in the three trenches had consistent OPE levels (29.1–215 ng g–1 lipid weight), independent of the sediment pollution patterns. The OPEs in these amphipods appeared more linked to surface-dwelling organisms, suggesting the influence of “solvent depletion”. This study highlights the need for an improved understanding of deep-sea pollutant sources and transport, urging the establishment of protective measures for these remote marine habitats.

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