Potential of activated carbon to decrease 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene toxicity and accelerate soil decontamination

Galina K. Vasilyeva, Vladimir D. Kreslavski, Byung Taek Oh, Patrick J. Shea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Activated carbon can be used to decrease 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) toxicity and promote bioremediation of highly contaminated soil. Adding activated carbon at 0.25, 0.75, and 1.0% (w/w) to Sharpsburg soil contaminated with 500, 1,000, and 2,000 mg TNT/kg decreased concentrations of TNT and its transformation products in soil solution to 5 mg/L or less, resulting in low toxicity to corn plants (Zea mays L.) and soil microorganisms. As much as 50% of the added TNT was rapidly bound to the soil-activated carbon matrix. Simultaneous accumulation of 2,4,6-trinitrobenzaldehyde (TNBA1d) indicated that the activated carbon promoted oxidation of TNT. Some of the TNBA1d was further oxidized to 1,3,5-trinitrobenzene, followed by reduction to 3,5-dinitroaniline. Reversibly bound TNT was gradually transformed to 2-amino-4,6-dinitrotoluene and 4-amino-2,6-dinitrotoluene, and both were bound to the soil-activated carbon matrix. The transformation and binding of TNT to soil were further promoted by incorporating shredded corn plants after growing for 52 d in the activated carbon-amended soil. After 120 d, these amendments reduced extractable TNT and transformation products by 91% in soil containing 2,000 mg TNT/kg, compared to 55% in unamended soil. These results demonstrate the potential use of activated carbon in combination with plants to promote in situ bioremediation of soils highly contaminated with explosives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)965-971
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001


  • 2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene
  • Activated carbon
  • Bioremediation
  • Phytotoxicity
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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