The fate of the cyclic nitramine explosive RDX in natural soil

Environ Sci Technol. 2001 Mar 15;35(6):1037-40. doi: 10.1021/es001389t.


The sorption-desorption behavior and long-term fate of hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) was examined in sterilized and nonsterilized topsoil. Results of this study indicate that although RDX is not extensively sorbed by the topsoil (Ks(d) of 0.83 L/kg), sorption is nearly irreversible. Furthermore, there was no difference in the sorption behavior for sterile and nonsterile topsoil. However, over the longterm, RDX completely disappeared within 5 weeks in nonsterile topsoil, and hexahydro-1-nitroso-3,5-dinitro-1,3,5-triazine (MNX), hexahydro-1,3-dinitroso-5-nitro-1,3,5-triazine (DNX), and hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitroso-1,3,5-triazine (TNX) metabolites formed in the aqueous phase. Over the same period, recovery of RDX from sterile topsoil was high (55-99%), and the nitroso metabolites were not detected. Only traces of RDX were mineralized to CO2 and N2O by the indigenous microorganisms in nonsterile topsoil. Of the RDX that was mineralized to N2O, one N originated from the ring and the other from the nitro group substituent, as determined using N15 ring-labeled RDX. However, N2O from RDX represented only 3% of the total N2O that formed from the process of nitrification/denitrification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Rodenticides / chemistry
  • Rodenticides / metabolism*
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Soil Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Solubility
  • Triazines / chemistry
  • Triazines / metabolism*


  • Rodenticides
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Triazines
  • cyclonite