US Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Chemosphere 86 (2012) 1001–1007; doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2011.11.036


This study investigates the dissolution, sorption, leachability, and plant uptake of tungsten and alloying metals from canister round munitions in the presence of model, well characterized soils. The source of tungsten was canister round munitions, composed mainly of tungsten (95%) with iron and nickel making up the remaining fraction. Three soils were chosen for the lysimeter studies while four model soils were selected for the adsorption studies. Lysimeter soils were representatives of the typical range of soils across the continental USA; muck-peat, clay-loamy and sandy-quartzose soil. Adsorption equilibrium data on the four model soils were modeled with Langmuir and linear isotherms and the model parameters were obtained. The adsorption affinity of soils for tungsten follows the order: Pahokee peat > kaolinite > montmorillonite > illite. A canister round munition dissolution study was also performed. After 24 d, the measured dissolved concentrations were: 61.97, 3.56, 15.83 mg L‒1 for tungsten, iron and nickel, respectively. Lysimeter transport studies show muck peat and sandy quartzose soils having higher tungsten concentration, up to 150 mg kg‒1 in the upper layers of the lysimeters and a sharp decline with depth suggesting strong retardation processes along the soil profile. The concentrations of tungsten, iron and nickel in soil lysimeter effluents were very low in terms of posing any environmental concern; although no regulatory limits have been established for tungsten in natural waters. The substantial uptake of tungsten and nickel by ryegrass after 120 d of exposure to soils containing canister round munition suggests the possibility of tungsten and nickel entering the food chain.