The soil at many military sites in the United States is contaminated with 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) and other munitions chemicals. Anaerobic biodegradation is one possible method of soil remediation. This paper reports the results of investigations about the effects of a number of parameters on anaerobic biodegradation of TNT. The method used had been previously applied to the herbicide 2-sec-butyl-4,6-dinitrophenol (dinoseb), which is also a nitroaromatic compound, and to a TNT-contaminated soil. It was based on the use of an aerobic bacterial consortium to consume dissolved oxygen and to force anaerobic conditions, and a methanogenic bacterial consortium previously acclimated to TNT to enhance degradation. It was determined that the initial steps of biodegradation of TNT in this soil were not affected by the presence of either of the consortia, and that TNT degradation was slightly faster at pH 7.0 than at pH 6.0. It was also determined that agitation during incubation increased the degradation rate of one of the intermediates of the degradation.
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