Biogeochemistry of Butyitins in an Enclosed Marine Ecosystem

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Tributyltin (TBT) and its degradation products were studied by introducing radiolabeled tributyltin into a 13-m3 marine enclosure (a MERL mesocosm) with near-natural water column and benthos. TBT and its degradation products were monitored for 278 days. TBT concentrations in the water column (initially 590 ± 20 ng L−1) decreased at a rate of 0.20 day−1 for 15 days and then slowed to 0.10 day−1. Most TBT was lost from the water column through biodegradation, which occurred at a rate of 0.08 day−1. Two-thirds of the degradation proceeded through debutylation to dibutyltin (DBT), which in turn degraded to monobutyltin (MBT) at ~ 0.04 day−1. One-third of the TBT was degraded directly to MBT. There was no evidence for degradation of MBT in the water. Another portion of the TBT removed from the water column was transported to sediments. TBT in the sediments did not appear to measurably degrade. A portion of the TBT was apparently transported rapidly to the air-water interface and then was lost from the tank. © 1990, American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.

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Environmental Science and Technology