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Accumulation of hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine by the earthworm Eisenia andrei in a sandy loam soil


  • Published on the Web 5/11/2009.


The heterocyclic polynitramine hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) is a highly energetic compound found as a soil contaminant at some defense installations. Although RDX is not lethal to soil invertebrates at concentrations up to 10,000 mg/kg, it decreases earthworm cocoon formation and juvenile production at environmentally relevant concentrations found at contaminated sites. Very little is known about the uptake of RDX in earthworms and the potential risks for food-chain transfer of RDX in the environment. Toxicokinetic studies were conducted to quantify the bioaccumulation factors (BAFs) using adult earthworms (Eisenia andrei) exposed for up to 14 d to sublethal concentrations of nonlabeled RDX or [14C]RDX in a Sassafras sandy loam soil. High-performance liquid chromatography of acetonitrile extracts of tissue and soil samples indicated that nonlabeled RDX can be accumulated by the earthworm in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. The BAF, expressed as the earthworm tissue to soil concentration ratio, decreased from 6.7 to 0.1 when the nominal soil RDX concentrations were increased from 1 to 10,000 mg/kg. Tissue concentrations were comparable in earthworms exposed to nonlabeled RDX or [14C]RDX. The RDX bioaccumulation also was estimated using the kinetically derived model (BAFK), based on the ratio of the uptake to elimination rate constants. The established BAFK of 3.6 for [14C]RDX uptake was consistent with the results for nonlabeled RDX. Radioactivity also was present in the tissue residues of [14C]RDX-exposed earthworms following acetonitrile extraction, suggesting the formation of nonextractable [14C]RDX metabolites associated with tissue macromolecules. These findings demonstrated a net accumulation of RDX in the earthworm and the potential for food-chain transfer of RDX to higher-trophic-level receptors.