Environ Sci Technol 2019 May 6;53(10):5652-5660. Epub 2019 May 6.
GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel , Wischhofstraße 1-3 , 24148 Kiel , Germany.
Underwater munitions containing millions of tons of toxic explosives are present worldwide in coastal marine waters as a result of unexploded ordnance and intentional dumping. The dissolution flux of solid explosives following corrosion of metal munition housings controls the exposure of biological receptors to toxic munition compounds (MC), including TNT: 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene, RDX: 1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazinane, and DNB: 1,3-dinitrobenzene. Very little is known about the dissolution behavior of MC in the marine environment. In this work, we exploit a unique marine study site in the Baltic Sea with exposed solid explosives to quantify in situ MC dissolution fluxes using dissolved MC gradients near the exposed explosive surface, as well as benthic chamber incubations. The gradient method gave dissolution fluxes that ranged between 0.001 and 3.2, between 0.0001 and 0.04, and between 0.003 and 1.7 mg cm day for TNT, RDX, and DNB, respectively. Benthic chamber incubations indicated dissolution fluxes of 0.0047-0.277, 0-0.11, and 0.00047-1.45 mg cm day for TNT, RDX, and DNB, respectively. In situ dissolution fluxes estimated in the current study were lower than most dissolution rates reported for laboratory experiments, but they clearly demonstrated that MC are released from underwater munitions to the water column in the Baltic Sea.