4 February, 2002
FILTERING THE AIR FOR POPS
The POPs team is filtering the air to measure for any persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that might be here. Other scientists have found POPs in the Antarctic food web: in fish, Minke whales, penguins, and other birds. So it is well known that POPs may be here.
This team is looking for POPs in the air and water. We are looking at ways that POPs might enter the food web. We take air samples from two devices or stations set up in the "backyard". This is at the back of Palmer Station. To get there we climb up and over a lot of the rock that makes up this island. Rebecca Dickhut chose this location because it is downwind from the glacier. It is also close enough to the station for electrical power that is needed to collect the air samples.
Each air sampling device has a paper filter and a canister that holds two "PUFs", or foam plugs. The paper filter is 8 inches by 10 inches. The paper and the foam plugs will collect any aerosol parcticles of POPs that are in the air. The air coming off the glacier is forced through the filters by a generator-powered pump. One device can draw 1200 cubic meters of air through it in a 24 hour period, and the other device can draw 1000 cubic meters of air in a 24 hour period.
Rebecca has been changing the filters and plugs are various times. Sometimes we have changed them every 36 hours, and sometimes we have changed them every 24 hours. We are taking short and long time samples during each week. The paper filters and the foam plugs will be taken back to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science for analysis.
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