A short-term study was performed to determine the feasibility of using constructed wetlands to remove explosives from groundwater, and to assess accumulation of parent explosives compounds and their known degradation compounds in wetland plants. Tolerance towards explosives in submersed and emergent plants was screened over a range of 0 to 40 mg L-1. Tolerance varied per compound, with TNT evoking the highest, 2NT the lowest, and 24DNT, 26DNT, and RDX an intermediate growth reducing effect. Submersed plants were more sensitive to TNT than emergent ones. A small-scale 4-month field study was carried out at the Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant, Chattanooga, TN. In this surface-flow, modular system, the influent contained high levels (>2.1 mg L-1) of TNT, 2,4DNT, 2,6DNT, 2NT, 3NT, and 4NT, and the HRT was 7 days. The performance criteria of US EPA treatment goals for local discharge of 2,4DNT concentration <0.32 mg L-1, and 26DNT concentration <0.55 mg L-1 were not met at the end of the experiment, although explosives levels were greatly reduced. Low levels of 2ADNT and 4ADNT were transiently observed in the plant biomass. Results of two other, older, constructed wetlands, however, indicated that in these systems treatment goals were met most of the time, residues of explosives parent compounds and known degradation compounds in plant tissues were low and/or transient, and in substrates were low.

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