There has been increasing recognition of the occurrence of natural, halogenated organic compounds in marine and terrestrial environments. Chloroform is an example of a halogenated organic compound with natural formation as its primary source. Chloroform emission from soil has been reported from diverse Arctic, temperate, and (sub)tropical ecosystems. The terrestrial environment is a significant source to the atmosphere, but little is known about the formation pathway of chloroform in soil. Here, we present evidence that chloroform is formed through the hydrolysis of trichloroacetyl compounds in natural, organic-rich soils. In situ emissions of chloroform from soil in nine Arctic and subarctic ecosystems were linked to soil trichloroacetyl turnover. The residence time from formation of the trichloroacetyl compounds in soil to the release of chloroform to the atmosphere varied between 1 and 116 active months in unfrozen topsoil, depending on soil pH. Nonspecific halogenation that leads to trihaloacetyl formation does not discriminate between chloride and bromide, and brominated analogues were formed alongside chloroform. Soil may therefore be a previously unrecognized, natural source of brominated haloforms. The formation pathway of haloforms through trihaloacetyl compounds can most likely be extended to other ecosystems with organic topsoils.
- Programområde 2: Vandressourcer