nitroorganic based energetic chemicals; environmental health impacts; explosives
The wide use of nitroorganic based energetic chemicals (NOCs) such as the aromatic TNT and the non-aromatic cyclic nitramines RDX and HMX has resulted in the contamination of vast terrestrial and aquatic systems. Several reports described the toxic and carcinogenic effects of some of these chemicals and their degradation products to various terrestrial, aquatic and avian receptors. However, to validate these claims and to determine the true identity of the chemicals that causes the effect, we need to first understand the transport and transformation mechanisms of these chemicals. NOCs are a special class of chemicals with unique physical, chemical and biochemical properties making them mobile and labile molecules in the environment. Consequently, NOCs have the potential to migrate through subsurface soil and to undergo (bio)transformation to other chemicals, which raises the question "what is the real impact of these chemicals on the environment?" To be able to provide an unequivocal answer to the above question we must first understand various abiotic and biotic transformation routes that these chemicals may encounter in the environment under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Secondly, we need to know the ability of these chemicals and their degradation products to migrate through the environment. Knowledge of the transport and transformation routes of these chemicals will help understand their potential environmental impact.