Methylation of Trimethyltin Compounds by Estuarine Sediments

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Science  14 Aug 1981:
Vol. 213, Issue 4509, pp. 770-771
DOI: 10.1126/science.213.4509.770


Both biologically active and autoclaved sediments convert trimethyltin hydroxide to the volatile tetramethyltin. Larger amounts of tetramethyltin were formed in the bioactive sediments than in the sterile sediments. No volatile tin compounds were detected in the absence of trimethyltin hydroxide or from trimethyltin hydroxide in seawater or in seawater containing bentonite. The formation of tetramethyltin is slow, taking over 80 days at 16°C to reach a maximum. The extent of conversion, although significant, is not extensive. The formation of tetramethyltin occurs in estuarine sediments by both abiotic and biologically enhanced pathways. A redistribution mechanism accounts for at least the abiotic pathway and possibly both formation pathways.