Reductive dechlorination rates of 4,4′-DDE (1-chloro-4-[2,2-dichloro-1-(4-chlorophenyl)ethenyl]benzene) in sediments of the Palos Verdes Shelf, CA

Marine Chemistry
By: , and 



Wastes from the world's largest manufacturer of DDT (1-chloro-4-[2,2,2-trichloro-1-(4-chlorophenyl)ethyl]benzene) were released into the Los Angeles County municipal sewer system from 1947 to 1971. Following primary treatment, the effluent was discharged through a submarine outfall system whereupon a portion of the DDT and associated degradation products were deposited in sediments of the Palos Verdes Shelf (PVS). Parent DDT is present only in trace amounts in the sediments today, the vast majority having been transformed to DDE (1-chloro-4-[2,2-dichloro-1-(4-chlorophenyl)ethenyl]benzene) shortly following deposition. Previously believed to be inert, DDE is slowly being converted to DDMU (1-chloro-4-[2-chloro-1-(4-chlorophenyl)ethenyl]benzene) and DDMU to DDNU (1-chloro-4-[1-(4-chlorophenyl)ethenyl]benzene) via microbially-mediated reductive dechlorination (RDC). Kinetic and compositional data suggest that this process began sometime in the mid- to late 1970s. Rates of DDE RDC in shelf sediments are spatially variable and have proven difficult to determine accurately. This limits our ability to understand the factors controlling RDC rates and to predict the course of natural recovery. In the present study, concentrations of ten DDT compounds and twelve PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) congeners were determined in cores collected at two locations on the PVS (stations 3C, 6C, ~7km and ~2km downcurrent from the outfalls, respectively). DDE inventories, normalized to those of non-degrading PCB congeners having similar physico-chemical properties, were modeled to yield first-order RDC rates for the period 1981–2010. Average rates at stations 3C and 6C were 0.044±0.004 and 0.008±0.002yr−1, respectively, with depth-dependent RDC rates at station 3C (1992–2003) ranging from 0.0025 to 0.102yr−1. Comparison of RDC and total loss (i.e., RDC+physical loss) rates suggests that the average per cent loss of DDE due to RDC is ~90% at station 3C (1981–2010) and ~57% at station 6C (1992–2010). Trajectories of adjusted molar inventories of DDE, DDMU, and DDNU were forecast using a first-order multi-step reaction series (M-SRS) model. The results for DDE are consistent with the normalization procedure; RDC rates at stations 3C and 6C were 0.036±0.002yr−1 and 0.010±0.001yr−1, respectively. At station 6C, the DDE to DDMU transformation appears to be the rate limiting step in the reaction sequence, DDE k1→ DDMU k2→ DDNU k3→ unidentified compound(s), whereas at station 3C RDC rates for DDE and DDMU are roughly equivalent. At both locations the transformation rate of DDNU is 7–20 times that of the other steps. Estimated half-lives of DDE at stations 3C and 6C based on the M-SRS model results are ~19 and 72 years, respectively.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Reductive dechlorination rates of 4,4′-DDE (1-chloro-4-[2,2-dichloro-1-(4-chlorophenyl)ethenyl]benzene) in sediments of the Palos Verdes Shelf, CA
Series title Marine Chemistry
DOI 10.1016/j.marchem.2017.12.005
Volume 203
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Eastern Branch, Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 10
Last page 21
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Palos Verde Shelf
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details