Emission, dynamics and transport of perfluoroalkyl substances from land to ocean by the Great East Japan earthquake in 2011.

Water samples collected along the Japanese coast and in the open Pacific Ocean in 2010, 2011, and 2012 were analysed for perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) to evaluate the effect of Great East Japan Earthquake (EQ3.11), which occurred on 11 March 2011, on the dispersion of chemical pollutants. Ultra-trace analysis of PFASs in water, a super computer simulation, and an inventory analysis from industrial records revealed the sources and dynamics of PFASs during the EQ3.11 disaster. In this respect, EQ3.11 destroyed solid infrastructure on land, and within minutes, PFASs stocked therein were released into the open environment. The historically significant tsunami backwash swept them away from their origin to the coastal water within several hours. It was estimated that from 0.8 to 1.0 ton of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and 4.8 to 5.1 ton of PFOA were discharged into the coastal waters after EQ3.11 and the tsunami that followed. The re-construction of EQ3.11 also traced the influence of this pollution in open ocean water until March 2012, and a statistical and finger printing analysis revealed that there were different distribution mechanisms in coastal regions than in the open ocean for PFOS, other shorter chain perfluorinated sulfonic acids and perfluorinated carboxyl acids.

Authors: Yamazaki E, Yamashita N, Taniyasu S, Miyazawa Y, Gamo T, Ge H, Kannan K. ;Full Source: Environmental Science & Technology. 2015 Aug 30. [Epub ahead of print] ;