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For some years, beginning in 1941, military and industrial wastes were disposed of at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (RMA) located near Denver, Colorado. A comprehensive study of RMA supported by the United States Army was conducted several years ago. Efforts were made to identify suspected toxic substances within the confines of or possibly migrating from RMA. For this study, bioassays were made in the glasshouse on soil samples taken from RMA. The tests were patterned after tests routinely used to identify herbicidal activity. Inhibition of seed germination or retardation of growth and development of seedlings grown in the soils were major criteria for indicating the presence of substances toxic to plants. In addition, observations were made of chlorosis, foliar necrosis, formative effects, and other symptoms indicative of phytotoxicity. Test results showed evidence of toxicity on plants grown in soil samples from Section 36 in the center of RMA. The experimental approach proved appropriate. Influences due to test species, seasonal variation of the greenhouse environment, and data analysis were evaluated.
organic compounds, industrial wastes, contaminants, bioassay, germination, plant growth, toxicity
Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY