Factors affecting multiple persistent organic pollutant concentrations in the air above Japan: A panel data analysis

Dien, N. T.; Hirai, Y.; Koshiba, J.; Sakai, S. (2021) Chemosphere, 277: 130356

Numerous reports have elucidated different statistical approaches to identify temporal trends in atmospheric persistent organic pollutant (POP) time series. However, the correlation of industrial activity with concentrations of atmospheric POPs in Japan has not yet been determined. Herein, a panel data analysis of a 16-year monitoring program (2003-2018) conducted by the Japanese Ministry of Environment was used to investigate a range of POPs in the atmosphere above Japan. This work focuses on polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), and pentachlorobenzene (PeCBz) collected each year at 53 sites across Japan. The panel analysis revealed that PCB, PCN, and PBDE concentrations were influenced by a combination of factors including year, industrial activity (municipal and industrial waste incinerators, cement kilns, steel industry, and secondary zinc production), population, temperature, and atmospheric boundary layer. However, HCB and PeCBz were not significantly affected by these factors. Industrial activity showed stronger positive correlations with all homologues of PCBs, PCNs, and PBDEs as compared to those demonstrated by population. Significant decreasing trends were identified for the atmospheric PBDEs (half-life t1/2 = 9.4 years), PCNs (t1/2 = 8.9 years), and PCBs (t1/2 = 13.5 years) concentrations, while HCB and PeCBz showed slightly increasing or steady levels. As a statistical tool, panel data analysis can contribute to the assessment of spatial and temporal trends of POPs at a national scale, while elucidating different behavioral responses to numerous environmental variables.


Panel data analysis; Atmospheric POP monitoring; PCBs; PCNs; PBDEs; Chlorobenzenes