Spread, Behavior, and Ecosystem Consequences of Conventional Munitions Compounds in Coastal Marine Waters.

Beck, Aaron J. , Gledhill, Martha , Schlosser, Christian , Stamer, Beate, Böttcher, Claus, Sternheim, Jens, Greinert, Jens and Achterberg, Eric P. (2018) Spread, Behavior, and Ecosystem Consequences of Conventional Munitions Compounds in Coastal Marine Waters. Open Access Frontiers in Marine Science, 5 . Art.Nr. 141. DOI 10.3389/fmars.2018.00141.

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Coastal marine environments are contaminated globally with a vast quantity of unexploded ordnance and munitions from intentional disposal. These munitions contain organic explosive compounds as well as a variety of metals, and represent point sources of chemical pollution to marine waters. Most underwater munitions originate from World Wars at the beginning of the twentieth century, and metal munitions housings have been impacted by extensive corrosion over the course of the following decades. As a result, the risk of munitions-related contaminant release to the water column is increasing. The behavior of munitions compounds is well-characterized in terrestrial systems and groundwater, but is only poorly understood in marine systems. Organic explosive compounds, primarily nitroaromatics and nitramines, can be degraded or transformed by a variety of biotic and abiotic mechanisms. These reaction products exhibit a range in biogeochemical characteristics such as sorption by particles and sediments, and variable environmental behavior as a result. The reaction products often exhibit increased toxicity to biological receptors and geochemical controls like sorption can limit this exposure. Environmental samples typically show low concentrations of munitions compounds in water and sediments (on the order of ng/L and μg/kg, respectively), and ecological risk appears generally low. Nonetheless, recent work demonstrates the possibility of sub-lethal genetic and metabolic effects. This review evaluates the state of knowledge on the occurrence, fate, and effect of munition-related chemical contaminants in the marine environment. There remain a number of knowledge gaps that limit our understanding of munitions-related contaminant spread and effect, and the need for additional work is made all the more urgent by increasing risk of release to the environment.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: underwater munitions, discarded military munitions, unexploded ordnance, UXO, trinitrotoluene, TNT, RDX, HMX, UDEMM
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-CH Chemical Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00141
ISSN: 2296-7745
Related URLs:
Projects: UDEMM
Date Deposited: 03 May 2018 09:46
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 09:15
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/42920

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