Mirex in the environment: its degradation to kepone and related compounds

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Science  26 Nov 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4268, pp. 939-941
DOI: 10.1126/science.62396


The chlorocarbon mirex undergoes slow, successive loss of chlorine in the field to a series of related compounds that had lost one or more chlorine atoms. Soil samples were recovered 12 years after treatment at 1 part per million (ppm), and ant bait was recovered 5 years after an aircraft crash. As much as 50 percent of the original mirex was recovered at levels of about 0.5 and 640 ppm, respectively. Kepone was present at levels of 0.02 ppm in soil and 10 ppm in the bait or up to 10 percent of the recovered mirex, as determined by combined techniques of chromatography and mass spectrometry. This constitutes the first observation of the degradation of mirex in nature, and demonstrates a pathway for its eventual disappearance from the environment.