U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 1999


U.S. Government work


Explosives contamination in surface or groundwater used for the irrigation of food crops and phytoremediation of explosives-contaminated soil or water using plant-assisted biodegradation have brought about concerns as to the fate of explosives in plants. Liquid scintillation counting, high-performance liquid chromatography, and gel permeation chromatography were utilized to characterize explosives (hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine and trinitrotoluene) and their metabolites in plant tissues obtained from three separate studies. Analyzing tissues of yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus), corn (Zea mays), lettuce (Lacuta sativa), tomato (Lyopersicum esculentum), radish (Raphanus sativus), and parrot feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) from three studies where exposure to explosives at nontoxic levels (1–2 mg/L in water) occurred showed that extensive transformation of the explosive contaminant occurred, variations were noted in uptake and transformation between terrestrial and aquatic plants, the products had significantly higher polarity and water solubility than the parent compounds, and the molecular sizes of the transformation products were significantly greater than those of the parent compounds (approximately 300 times greater).