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Proceedings Paper

Development of colorimetric field screening methods for munitions compounds in soil
Author(s): Thomas F. Jenkins; Marianne E. Walsh; Patricia W. Schumacher; Philip G. Thorne
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Paper Abstract

Simple colorimetric tests have been developed to screen for the presence of TNT, TNB, DNT, DNB, tetryl, RDX, HMX, nitroglycerine (NG), PETN, nitrocellulose (NC), nitroguanidine (NQ), picric acid and ammonium picrate in soil. Soils are extracted by manual shaking with acetone. For the nitroaromatics, the extracts are reacted with potassium hydroxide and sodium sulfite to form their colored Janowsky complexes. For RDX, HMX, NG, PETN, NC and NQ, extracts are passed through an anion exchange resin to remove nitrate, and then acidified with acetic acid; the nitramines and nitrate esters are reduced with zinc to form nitrous acid. The nitrous acid is detected by the Griess reaction using a Hach Nitriver 3 powder pillow, which produces a highly colored azo dye. Detection of these analytes can be obtained visually and concentrations estimated from absorbance measurements at 540 nm for TNT, TNB and tetryl, 570 nm for DNTs and DNB, and at 510 nm for RDX, HMX, NG, PETN, NC and NQ. For picric acid/ammonium picrate, the acetone extract is passed through a basic ion-exchange column that retains picrate ion. The column is rinsed with methanol to elute interferences, and the picrate is desorbed with acetone containing several drops of sulfuric acid. The extract is diluted with deionized water, and the concentration of picrate is obtained from the absorbance at 400 nm. Detection limits are about 1 (mu) g/g for all analytes except NG, NC and NQ, which are slightly higher. Results from field screening at a number of sites have been correlated with laboratory analyses for TNT and RDX. The results indicate that the field screening methods do not suffer from false negatives and the rate of false positives is low. Concentration estimates from field screening compared favorably with results from the standard laboratory methods.

Paper Details

Date Published: 9 October 1995
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 2504, Environmental Monitoring and Hazardous Waste Site Remediation, (9 October 1995); doi: 10.1117/12.224116
Show Author Affiliations
Thomas F. Jenkins, U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab. (United States)
Marianne E. Walsh, U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab. (United States)
Patricia W. Schumacher, U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab. (United States)
Philip G. Thorne, U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2504:
Environmental Monitoring and Hazardous Waste Site Remediation
Tuan Vo-Dinh, Editor(s)

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