What is TNT?
TNT is a highly recalcitrant xennobiotic man made compound which is yellow and odorless. The uses of TNT include Military shells, Bombs, and underwater blasting. This compounds production within the United States is restricted to military arsenals. The TNT at these sites is generally released into the environment through wastewater effluents and from leaching at disposal sites. Upon entering the environment TNT undergoes photolytic breakdown in surface waters but most of the TNT is not transformed and moves into ground water and soil where it can persist for many years. This nitroaromatic compound is toxic to many organisms including animals, plants, insects, and bacteria.
How is TNT Regulated?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had designated TNT as a hazardous waste because it is explosive, flammable, and toxic. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has made it mandatory that TNT be 10% water by weight and labeled as a flammable solid whenever it's transported. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandate that working environments contain less than 1.5 mg/m3.
Humans exposed to high concentrations of TNT in
the air have experienced health effect such as amenia and abnormal liver
function. Anemia, abnormal liver function and enlargement of the spleen
have been seen in animals that either ate or breathed TNT. Exposure of
TNT to the skin can cause irritation and if exposure is prolonged cataract
formation has been seen. The EPA has classified TNT in group C as a possible
human carcinogen based on experiments in which rats were force feed TNT
and urinary bladder tumors were formed. Upon entering the body TNT is
broken down and excreted in urine within 24hours. However TNT is not highly
bioavailable (Kow ranging from 2.2-2.7) and thus is not expected to bioconcentrate
to high levels ( >1,000 times media concentration). Due to the strict
regulation on the production and specialized use of TNT exposure to humans
is expected to be low.
Average reported concentration of TNT pollution
at polluted sites
Surface Water: 0.006-.038 mg/L