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1,3,5-trinitroperhydro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX)

Treatment Processes
Fate and Transport
CAS Number: 82030-42-0
Synonyms: Cyclonite, Hexogen, RDX, Research Department Explosive, Royal Demolition Explosive, Royal Dutch Explosive
Contaminant Type: Chemical

RDX is a highly explosive (HE) compound which has been in use since the late 19th century. It is manufactured at a limited number of military facilities by itself or in combination with other explosives.  RDX's IUPAC name is 1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazinane. 

It can be found in contaminated groundwater and soils near military sites throughout the country. Contamination has mostly occurred through improper disposal of manufacturing and process waste called pink water. Pink water is generated from loading, assembling, packing, and demilitarization activities in military ammunitions plants [1715]. There are several HEs found in contaminated groundwater, however RDX is one of the most common compounds found. Concentrations of RDX in pink water are reported to be approximately 12 to 76 mg/L [1715, 1729].

USEPA has set lifetime human health advisories of 0.002 mg/L for RDX assuming residential exposure with a duration of 70 years [1717].  It is a possible human carcinogen based on anuimal liver tumor studies.

RDX is not very stable in water.  It is mobile in groundwater due to the weak sorption to aquifer solids. Granular activated carbon (GAC) is the most common treatment technology employed at this time, primarily in pump and treat configurations [1712]. However, spent GAC must be treated, which can dramatically increases treatment costs [1719]. Research is ongoing to determine treatment methods for RDX in wastewater treatment (pink water), water treatment, and in-situ.

RDX is not regulated in drinking water in the US, but is on the Contaminant Candidate List 3. 

Date of Literature Search: August 2010

1712 Parette, R., Cannon, F.S., and Weeks, K.; 2005; Removing low ppb level perchlorate, RDX, and HMX from groundwater with cetyltrimethylammonium chloride (CTAC) pre-loaded activated carbon; Water Research; Volume 35, Pages 4683 - 4692
1715 Oh, S-Y., Chiu, P.C., Kim, B.J. and Cha, D.K.; 2003; Enhancing Fenton oxidation of TNT and RDX through pretreatment with zero-valent iron; Water Research; Volume 37, Pages 4275 - 4283
1717 Morley, M.C., Henke, J.L. and Speitel, G.E.; 2005; Adsoprtion of RDX and HMX in Rapid Small-Scale Column Tests: Implications for Full-Scale Adsorbers; Journal of Environmental Engineering ASCE, ; Volume 131, Issue 1, Pages 29 - 37
1719 Hwang, S., Felt, D.R., Bouwer, E.J., Brooks, M.C., Larson, S.L. and Davis, J.L.; 2006; Remediation of RDX-Contaminated Water Using Alkaline Hydrolysis; Journal of Environmental Engineering ASCE; Vol 132, Issue 2, Pages 256 - 262
1729 Bonin, P.M.L., Bejan, D., Schutt, L., Hawari, J, and Bunce, N.J.; 2004; Electrochemical Reduction of Hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine in Aqueous Solutions; Environmental Science and Technology; Volume 38, Pages 1595 - 1599