Author(s): Thomas JE, Ou LT, AllAgely A
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Abstract DDT and its metabolites, DDD and DDE, have been shown to be recalcitrant to degradation. The parent compound, DDT, was used extensively worldwide starting in 1939 and was banned in the United States in 1973. The daughter compound, DDE, may result from aerobic degradation, abiotic dehydrochlorination, or photochemical decomposition. DDE has also occurred as a contaminant in commercial-grade DDT. The p,p'-DDE isomer is more biologically active than the o,p-DDE, with a reported half-life of -5.7 years. However, when DDT was repeatedly applied to the soil, the DDE concentration may remain unchanged for more than 20 yr. Remediation of DDE-contaminated soil and water may be done by several techniques. Phytoremediation involves translocating DDT, DDD, and DDE from the soil into the plant, although some aquatic species (duckweed > elodea > parrot feather) can transform DDT into predominantly DDD with some DDE being formed. Of all the plants that can uptake DDE, Cucurbita pepo has been the most extensively studied, with translocation values approaching "hyperaccumulation" levels. Soil moisture, temperature, and plant density have all been documented as important factors in the uptake of DDE by Cucurbita pepo. Uptake may also be influenced positively by amendments such as biosurfactants, mycorrhizal inoculants, and low molecular weight organic acids (e.g., citric and oxalic acids). DDE microbial degradation by dehalogenases, dioxygenases, and hydrolases occurs under the proper conditions. Although several aerobic degradation pathways have been proposed, none has been fully verified. Very few aerobic pure cultures are capable of fully degrading DDE to CO2. Cometabolism of DDE by Pseudomonas sp., Alicaligens sp., and Terrabacter sp. grown on biphenyl has been reported; however, not all bacterial species that produce biphenyl dioxygenase degraded DDE. Arsenic and copper inhibit DDE degradation by aerobic microorganisms. Similarly, metal chelates such as EDTA inhibit the breakdown of DDE by the extracellular lignolytic enzymes produced by white rot fungi. The addition of adjutants such as sodium ion, surfactants, and cellulose increased the rate of DDT aerobic or anaerobic degradation but did little to enhance the rate of DDE disappearance under anaerobic conditions. Only in the past decade has it been demonstrated that DDE can undergo reductive dechlorination under methanogenic and sulfidogenic conditions to form the degradation product DDMU, 1-chloro-2,2'-bis-(4'-chlorophenyl)ethane. The only pure culture reported to degrade DDE under anaerobic conditions was the denitrifier Alcaligens denitrificans. The degradation of DDE by this bacterium was enhanced by glucose, whereas biphenyl fumes had no effect. Abiotic remediation by DDE volatilization was enhanced by flooding and irrigation and deepplowing inhibited the volatilization. The use of zero-valent iron and surfactants in flooded soils enhanced DDT degradation but did not significantly alter the rate of DDE removal. Other catalysts (palladized magnesium, palladium on carbon, and nickel/aluminum alloys) degraded DDT and its metabolites, including DDE. However, these systems are often biphasic or involve explosive gases or both. Safer abiotic alternatives use UV light with titanium oxide or visible light with methylene green to degrade DDT, DDD, and DDE in aqueous or mixed solvent systems. Remediation and degradation of DDE in soil and water by phytoextraction, aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms, or abiotic methods can be accomplished. However, success has been limited, and great care must be taken that the method does not transfer the contaminants to another locale (by volatilization, deep plowing, erosion, or runoff) or to another species (by ingestion of accumulating plants or contaminated water). Although the remediation of DDT-, DDD-, and DDE-contaminated soil and water is beset with myriad problems, there remain many open avenues of research.
This article was published in Rev Environ Contam Toxicol
and referenced in Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry