Degradation of picric acid and 2,6-DNT in marine sediments and waters: The role of microbial activity and ultra-violet exposure

By: , and 



Bio- and photo-transformation of two munitions and explosives of concern, 2,6-dinitrotoluene (2,6-DNT) and 2,4,6-trinitrophenol (picric acid) were assessed in spiked marine sediments and water. A sandy and a fine-grained sediment, with 0.25% and 1.1% total organic carbon, respectively, were used for biotransformation assessments at 10 and 20 °C. Sterilized sediments were used as controls for biotic vs. abiotic transformation. Transformation products were analyzed by HPLC, GC/MS and LC/MS. Biotransformation in sediments started soon after the initial contact of the chemicals with the sediments and proceeded for several months, with rates in the following sequence: fine-grain at 20 °C > fine-grain at 10 °C > sand at 20 °C > sand at 10 °C. The biotransformation paths seemed to be similar for all conditions. The major biotransformation product of 2,6-DNT was 2-amino-6-nitrotoluene (2-A-6-NT). 2-Nitrotoluene (2-NT) and other minor components, including N,N-dimethyl-3-nitroaniline, benzene nitrile, methylamino-2-nitrosophenol and diaminophenol, were also identified. After more prolonged incubation these chemicals were replaced by high molecular weight polymers. Several breakdown products of picric acid were identified by GC/MS, including 2,4-dinitrophenol, amino dinitrophenols, 3,4-diamino phenol, amino nitrophenol and nitro diaminophenol. Photo-transformation of 2,6-DNT and picric acid in seawater was assessed under simulated solar radiation (SSR). No significant photolysis of picric acid in seawater was observed for up to 47 days, but photo-transformation of 2,6-DNT began soon after the initial exposure to SSR, with 89% being photo-transformed in 24 h and none remaining after 72 h. High molecular weight chemicals were generated, with mass spectra ranging from molecular weight 200–500 compared to 182 for DNT, and the color of the stock solution changed from clear to orange. Complexity of the mass spectra and mass differences among fragments suggest that multiple polymers were produced and were co-eluting during the LC/MS analyses.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Degradation of picric acid and 2,6-DNT in marine sediments and waters: The role of microbial activity and ultra-violet exposure
Series title Chemosphere
DOI 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2004.04.039
Volume 56
Issue 6
Year Published 2004
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description 12 p.
First page 519
Last page 530
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details