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Toxicological responses of red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) to subchronic soil exposures of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene

Authors

  • Mathew A. Bazar,

    1. U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine, Directorate of Toxicology, 5158 Blackhawk Road, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland 21010–5403
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  • Michael J. Quinn Jr.,

    1. U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine, Directorate of Toxicology, 5158 Blackhawk Road, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland 21010–5403
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  • Kristie Mozzachio,

    1. Biotechnics, 310 Millstone Drive, Hillsborough, North Carolina 27278, USA
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  • Mark S. Johnson

    Corresponding author
    1. U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine, Directorate of Toxicology, 5158 Blackhawk Road, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland 21010–5403
    • U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine, Directorate of Toxicology, 5158 Blackhawk Road, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland 21010–5403
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  • The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the U.S. Army. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.

  • Published on the Web 2/6/2008.

Abstract

Since World War I, trinitrotoluene (TNT) has been the most commonly used explosive. Environmental contamination associated with synthesis, manufacture of weapons, and use during training exercises has been extensive, with soil concentrations reaching 145,000 mg/kg. Some of these areas include habitats for amphibian species. Earlier studies have shown that salamanders dermally absorb TNT from soil. To ascertain what soil concentrations of TNT are toxic to amphibians, red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) were exposed to one of five concentrations of TNT in soil for 28 d and evaluated for indicators of toxicity. A total of 100 salamanders were randomly sorted by weight and assigned to target TNT concentrations in soil of either 3,000, 1,500, 750, 325, or 0 mg/kg dry weight. Food consisted of uncontaminated flightless Drosophila melanogaster. Survival was reduced in salamanders exposed to 1,500 and 3,000 mg/kg by 10 and 55%, respectively. Most mortality/morbidity occurred within the first week of exposure. Salamanders had a reduction in hemoglobin at 750 mg/kg or greater and a reduction in red blood cell concentration at 1,500 mg/kg or greater. Food consumption was affected in salamanders at 750 mg/kg or greater; a reduction in body mass and liver glycogen content also occurred at and above this concentration. Splenic congestion also was observed in salamanders from these groups. These data suggest that soil TNT concentrations of 373 ± 41.0 mg/kg or greater result in reduced body mass, reduced feed intake, and hematological effects.

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