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Research | Air Sampling

Air Sampling Project

We took 2 types of air samples at various locations around the Indian Ocean for Dr. Bala (Microparticles) and Oliver Wurl (Persistant Organic Pollutants) from the Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore. For an explanation of what POPs are for non scientists click here.

The POPs air sampling research with Oliver (now Dr. Wurl) has been very productive and produced 2 scientific papers with the results. Below is a list of publications:

"Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) over the open Indian Ocean" , published in Atmospheric Environment 40, 2006, 5558-5565.

"Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Equatorial Atmosphere over the Open Indian Ocean", published in Environmental Science and Technology40, 2006, 1454-1461.

"Time Trends of Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Atmosphere over the Indian Ocean in the last 30 Years", poster presented at Oceans 06 Asia Pacific.

"Levels of banned pollutants in air over Indian Ocean falling", Straits Times 23 May 2006.

Persistent Organic Pollutants
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) encompass many different and varied groups of man-made chemicals, such as pesticides (DDT, Hexachlorocyclohexane etc.) and industrial chemicals (polychlorinated biphenyls). The semi-volatile, toxic and persistent POPs are gradually redistributed from tropical regions to colder regions on a global scale. Several developing countries in Southeast Asia are considered to be a source of POPs for the global distribution. Scientists are highly interested in modeling the atmospheric transport of POPs from tropical latitudes to polar regions, where POPs condense out in the colder air. This leads to ecotoxicological impacts on the sensitive food webs of polar regions. Unfortunately, gaps in the POPs database exist for many regions due to the extreme challenges of sample collection.

Marine Aerosols
The atmosphere and the oceans are intimately linked in a complex web of physical and chemical cycles that play an important role in regulating the climate and the properties of the marine atmosphere. The exchange of a variety of gases and aerosol particles between the oceans and the atmosphere has become the subject of significant research in the Indian Ocean in view of the long-range transport of industrial emissions from developing countries within Asia. However, no comprehensive studies have been conducted yet to quantify the atmospheric loading of aerosol particles in this region. Data on both spatial and temporal variations of aerosol particles are required to gain a better understanding of the climate change, air-sea exchange, and the impact of air pollution on sensitive ecosystems. The current study attempts to fill this knowledge gap by providing data not only on the atmospheric loading of aerosol particles but also on the chemical substances contained in those particles including heavy metals, sea-salt, and various ionic species.

In this study we will collect atmospheric samples by use of a high volume air sampler and polyurethane foam (PUF) to capture POPs from the air. The samples are collected during Jocara Indian Ocean Quest. Atmospheric sampling is being conducted for the first time using a sailing boat which is free of contamination problems associated with motor-powered research vessels. The samples will be analyzed at the Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore, using high sophisticated analytical techniques.
Total suspended particulate matter in the marine atmosphere is captured by a portable air sampler. This sampler draws the ambient air at a flow rate of 5 liters per minute. The particles in the air are collected on to a Teflon membrane filter over a period of 48 hours. The collected particles will be subsequently processed and analysed for a range of chemical substances using a variety of analytical equipment.

International scientists will follow this study with interest to gain new insights on the distribution of organic and inorganic contaminations in the Indian Ocean and their global fate and transport


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