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Environ Sci Technol. 2002 Nov 1;36(21):4649-55.

Uptake and leaching of octahydro-1,3,5,7-tetranitro-1,3,5,7-tetrazocine by hybrid poplar trees.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.


The feasibility of remediating a high explosive, octahydro-1,3,5,7-tetranitro-1,3,5,7-tetrazocine (HMX), using hybrid poplar trees (Populus deltoides x nigra, DN34) was investigated. The fate, transport, and toxicity were determined. HMX was taken up by poplar cuttings from hydroponic solutions in long-term experiments (65 days) without evidence of toxicity. HMX was not toxic to actively growing hybrid poplar cuttings, even under saturated conditions. The measured log Kow for HMX was 0.19, less than other explosives, TNT, and RDX. However, the calculated transpiration stream concentration factor (TSCF) and root concentration factor (RCF) for HMX from an uptake study using radiolabeled [U-14C]HMX were 0.21 +/- 0.07 and 5.55 +/- 1.78 mL/g, respectively, both of which were intermediate between the values for TNT and ROX in previous reports. A 70% uptake of [U-14C]HMX was translocated and accumulated in leaves, and no metabolites were observed during a 65-day exposure using radiochromatography of plant tissue extracts. Most of the accumulated HMX (57%) in dried (fallen) poplar leaves was leached by deionized water after 5 days. Bioaccumulation in poplar trees and resolublization of HMX from leaves would be of significant ecological concern, and phytoremediation may not be warranted as a treatment option unless other processes occur under field conditions that degrade HMX to innocuous end products (e.g., photolysis, hydrolysis, or microbial degradation).

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