Toxicologic and Histopathologic Response of the Terrestrial Salamander Plethodon cinereus to Soil Exposures of 1,3,5-Trinitrohexahydro-1,3,5-Triazine

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Red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) were exposed to four different concentrations of 1,3,5-trinitrohexahydro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) in soil under controlled laboratory conditions for 28 days. Wild-caught P. cinereus (N = 20/treatment) were exposed to target concentrations of 5,000, 1000, 100, 10, and 0 mg RDX/kg soil (dry wt) using a microcosm design. Animals were fed 5 to 10 uncontaminated mutant Drosophila flies every 3 days and monitored daily. Animals were weighed 1 day before being placed in treatment and weekly thereafter. RDX concentrations in soil were analytically determined after the compound was added and mixed at the beginning, the midpoint, and the end of exposure. RDX soil concentrations were relatively stable throughout the exposure period. Signs of overt toxicity were observed primarily in the highest exposure group. Salamanders exposed to 5,000 mg RDX/kg soil exhibited signs of neuromuscular effects (lethargy, gaping, hypersensitivity, tremors) and exhibited significant weight loss. A single moribund animal from this group lost >20% of its original body weight and was killed. Animals in this exposure group also lost weight relative to animals in other treatments. Histopathologic evaluations, including an evaluation of melanomacrophage parameters, indicated no strong treatment-related findings. This study provided information regarding the effects from subchronic dermal exposure of a terrestrial amphibian species to RDX in soil and provides a microcosm approach to the evaluation of toxicity of contaminants in soil to a terrestrial vertebrate.