About Us | Help Videos | Contact Us | Subscriptions

Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Mechanism of Degradation of Methyl Bromide and Propargyl Bromide in Soil


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 29 No. 4, p. 1322-1328
    Received: Feb 22, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): spapiernik@ussl.ars.usda.gov
Request Permissions

  1. Sharon K. Papiernik *,
  2. Jianying Gan and
  3. Scott R. Yates
  1. USDA-ARS, U.S. Salinity Lab., 450 W. Big Springs Rd., Riverside, CA 92507.



The degradation of methyl bromide (MB) and propargyl bromide (PB) was investigated in soil and water to obtain information on the mechanism of degradation. It has been suggested that primary alkyl halides (including MB and the potential alternatives PB and methyl iodide) can undergo SN2 nucleophilic substitution with nucleophilic sites on soil organic matter (i.e., -NH2, -NH, -OH, -SH). The pattern of product formation observed in this study provides more direct evidence that fumigants that are primary alkyl halides can alkylate soil organic matter and that this may be a significant mechanism of degradation in soil. Degradation in water samples (hydrolysis) formed Br and the corresponding alcohol (propargyl alcohol from PB, methanol from MB) in equimolar amounts. The rate of hydrolysis was not significantly different from the rate of Br formation for both MB and PB. Degradation in two soils resulted in the formation of Br, but very little production of the corresponding alcohol, indicating that some mechanism other than hydrolysis must be occurring in the soil. Degradation of MB and PB was much more rapid in the higher-organic-matter clay loam soil than in the sandy loam soil. Spiking 14C-labeled MB to soil resulted in the formation of nonextractable (soil-bound) 14C, which increased as the extractable 14C decreased. Microbial oxidation was not significant in these soil samples, which were sterilized through autoclaving and/or treatment with high concentrations of fumigants. These results provide further experimental evidence that MB, PB, and similar compounds can alkylate soil organic matter.

  Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.

Copyright © .