Compound-specific isotope analysis of RDX and stable isotope fractionation during aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation

Anat Bernstein, Zeev Ronen, Eilon Adar, Ronit Nativ, Harald Lowag, Willibald Stichler, Rainer U. Meckenstock

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44 Scopus citations


Hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) is a common contaminant at explosives production sites. Here, we report on the use of compound-specific isotope analysis of RDX to obtain δ15N and δ 18O enrichment factors during biodegradation in batch cultures. A new preparation method has been developed based on RDX purification using thin-layer chromatography. RDX is then subjected to an elemental analyzer coupled with an isotope-ratio mass spectrometer (EA-IRMS). The precision of the method shows standard deviations of 0.13‰ and 1.18‰ for δ15 Nand δ18O, respectively, whereas the accuracy of the method has been checked routinely, adhering to external standards. The method was applied to RDX samples subjected to biodegradation under aerobic or anaerobic conditions. Enrichment factors under aerobic conditions were -2.1‰ and -1.7‰ for δ15N and δ18O, respectively, and under anaerobic conditions, -5.0‰ and -5.3‰ for δ15N and δ 18O, respectively. The results of this study provide a tool for monitoring natural attenuation of RDX in a contaminated environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7772-7777
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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