Subacute toxicity of oral 2,6-dinitrotoluene and 1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) exposure to the northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus)



Military activities associated with training have resulted in soil residues of munition compounds and their breakdown products. Often, these areas are valuable habitats used by birds. To evaluate the possibility of adverse effects in birds, the effects from oral exposures of 2,6-dinitrotoluene (2,6-DNT) and 1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) were tested using a controlled dosing regime in northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). Nine groups of birds of mixed sex received either corn oil or 50, 100, 190, or 350 mg 2,6-DNT/kg body weight/d or 20, 80, 125, or 180 mg RDX/kg body weight/d mixed in corn oil via gavage for 14 d. Etiology of disease was markedly different between compounds. Increased RDX exposure caused an inverse relationship to time of death, symptoms including clonic followed by tonic convulsions, and death shortly thereafter. Brain concentrations of RDX postmortem, however, were relatively consistent (mean ± standard error, 20.5 ± 2.9 mg/kg tissue). Observations of 2,6-DNT effects included gastrointestinal distress, dehydration, and a reduction in body mass and feed consumption. Together, these data suggest that RDX is more toxic from short, repeated exposures than 2,6-DNT, resulting in central nervous system—related effects, whereas 2,6-DNT causes gastrointestinal disturbances at higher exposures.