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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1996 May;62(5):1818-21.

Microbial degradation of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (CHCl2F and CHCl2CF3) in soils and sediments.

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U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California 94025, USA.


The ability of microorganisms to degrade trace levels of the hydrochlorofluorocarbons HCFC-21 and HCFC-123 was investigated. Methanotroph-linked oxidation of HCFC-21 was observed in aerobic soils, and anaerobic degradation of HCFC-21 occurred in freshwater and salt marsh sediments. Microbial degradation of HCFC-123 was observed in anoxic freshwater and salt marsh sediments, and the recovery of 1,1,1-trifluoro-2-chloroethane indicated the involvement of reductive dechlorination. No degradation of HCFC-123 was observed in aerobic soils. In some experiments, HCFCs were degraded at low (parts per billion) concentrations, raising the possibility that bacteria in nature remove HCFCs from the atmosphere.

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