Chapter

Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

Volume 191 of the series Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology pp 163-215

Explosives: Fate, Dynamics, and Ecological Impact in Terrestrial and Marine Environments

  • Albert L. JuhaszAffiliated withCentre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation, University of South AustraliaThe Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE)
  • , Ravendra NaiduAffiliated withCentre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation, University of South AustraliaThe Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE)

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Abstract

Explosive, or energetic compounds, may be defined as chemicals that, under the influence of thermal or chemical shock, decompose rapidly with the evolution of large amounts of heat and gas (Brannon and Pennington 2002). Numerous energetic compounds have been produced for varying industrial uses; however, secondary explosives pose the largest potential environmental concern because they are produced and used in defense activities in the greatest quantities. Secondary explosives may enter the environment following explosives manufacture, assembly, and packing, and explosives detonation. During these activities, soil, sediment, and water may become contaminated with energetic and related compounds with potential impacts on environmental and human health. Of the secondary explosives, trinitrotoluene (TNT) and Royal Demolition Explosive (hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine) (RDX) production outweigh other secondary explosives as they are the major ingredients in nearly every munition formulation (Walsh et al. 1993). In addition to chemicals added to explosive formulations, residues may contain compounds such as production impurities or decomposition by-products. For example, High Melting Explosive (octahydro-1,3,5,7-tetranitro-1,3,5,7-tetrazocine) (HMX) may be found as an impurity in RDX (Army, U.S. Department of Defense 1994), and TNT may contain dinitrotoluene and trinitrotoluene isomers (Legett et al. 1977).