Natural transformation of chlordecone into 5b-hydrochlordecone in French West Indies soils: statistical evidence for investigating long-term persistence of organic pollutants
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Chlordecone (CLD) was an organochlorine insecticide whose previous use resulted in an extensive pollution of the environment with severe health effects and social consequences. A closely related compound, 5b-hydrochlordecone (5b-hydroCLD), has been searched for and often detected in environmental matrices from the geographical area where CLD was applied. The current consensus considered that its presence was not the result of a biotic or abiotic dechlorination of CLD in these matrices but rather the consequence of its presence as impurity (synthesis by-product) in the CLD released into the environment. The aim of the present study was to determine if and to what extent degradation of CLD into 5b-hydroCLD occurred in the field. To test this hypothesis, the ratios of 5b-hydroCLD and CLD concentrations in a dataset of 810 soils collected between 2006 and 2012 in Martinique were compared to the ratios measured in 3 samples of the CLD dust commercial formulations applied in the banana fields of French West Indies (FWI) and 1 sample of the technical-grade CLD corresponding to the active ingredient used in such formulations. Soil data were processed with a hierarchical Bayesian model to account for random measurement errors and data censoring. Any pathway of CLD transformation into 5b-hydroCLD occurring over the long term in FWI soils would indeed change the ratio of 5b-hydroCLD/CLD compared to what it was in the initially applied formulations. Results showed a significant increase of the 5b-hydroCLD/CLD ratio in the soils—25 times greater in soil than in commercial formulations—which suggested that natural CLD transformation into 5b-hydroCLD over the long term occurred in these soils. Results from this study may impact future decisions for the remediation of the polluted areas.
KeywordsKepone Curlone Pesticides Banana Martinique Hierarchical Bayesian modelling Data censoring
The authors thank the SIG 972 and the Direction de l’Agriculture, de l’Alimentation et de la Forêt (Agriculture, Food and Forest Agency) of Martinique (Jean Iotti) for having allowed the access to the DAAF database and their help for data mining (Valentine Troesch and Mathilde Guéné). This work would not have been possible without the samples of Curlone® preserved from destruction by Alain Soler and Christian Chabrier from Cirad, Soizig Lemoine from French West Indies University and Hélène Marie-Nely from Martinique Agricultural Council and the sample of technical grade Kepone® conserved by Michael Unger (Virginia Institute of Marine Science). H.M. thanks Alain Archelas for his help in the correct naming of the bishomocubane compounds according to the CAS nomenclature and Yoan Labrousse for useful discussions. BRGM contribution was financed by the ABACHLOR project (Mouvet et al. 2013) within the DEMICHLORD programme set up by INRA with funds from the French Ministry of Research and by the DEVCHLORDECONE project conducted on BRGM research funds
In his 73rd year, this article is dedicated to Dr. G. Wayne Sovocool for his contributions to the use of mass spectral tools for the identification of organic pollutants. Among his achievements, he was a member of the US EPA team who 37 years ago made a breakthrough in the GC/MS analysis of chlordecone and of its mono-, di-hydro and chlordecol derivatives (see reference of Harless et al. 1978). Since then, this work remains a source of key information for those who are involved in chlordecone environmental studies. We also thank Wayne for his advice in order to improve the English of the present article.
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