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Book Sections Year : 2016

Theoretical approach to chlordecone biodegradation


Chlordecone (CLD) is an organochlorine insecticide that was used from 1978 to 1993 in the French West Indies (FWI) to control the populations of black weevil in banana plantations. This pesticide, with recognized neurotoxic, endrocrine, reproductive and carcinogenic effects, is nowadays responsible of an unprecedented sanitary, economic and social crisis in FWI. Thanks to the management options taken in the past years by the authorities to avoid the population dietary exposure the crisis is fortunately essentially contained. A final solution to the problem would consist however to eliminate the source of CLD responsible for the diffuse pollution of all the FWI environmental compartments and related food resources and so to destroy the stock of CLD still presents in the soils. One of the cheapest and most environmental friendly destruction methods corresponds to microbial degradation. Such a mode of destruction seems to be particularly appropriate in the case of FWI since it can often be implemented in situ, using techniques (e.g., watering; addition of nutrients, labile organic matter, microorganisms) that are fairly easy to incorporate into existing agricultural practices. The latter is important as the pollution is estimated to cover some 19,000 ha of arable lands. Until now however there is no evidence of natural attenuation in the environments impacted by chlordecone and so of the possibility to stimulate the rate of the process. The reason usually advocated to explain this apparent absence of degradation in the environment is the peculiar chemical structure of CLD (bishomocubane “cage” structure with a high steric hindrance caused by the 10 chlorine atoms bound to the cage), coupled to its low aqueous solubility (3 mg/l at 20°C) and high hydrophobicity (Log Kow 20°C, pH 7 = 4.5) that would make it refractory to degradation. In this chapter through a thermodynamic approach, we demonstrate that there is no energetic reason why the structure of CLD should not be amenable to microbial degradation and we propose some possible reasons for the apparent absence of CLD degradation in FWI and what could be done to reverse the situation.


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ird-01559694 , version 1 (17-11-2017)
ird-01559694 , version 2 (24-02-2018)
ird-01559694 , version 3 (20-03-2018)



Hervé Macarie, Igor Novak, Isabel Sastre-Conde, Yoan Labrousse, Alain Archelas, et al.. Theoretical approach to chlordecone biodegradation. Magalie Lesueur Jannoyer, Philippe Cattan, Thierry Woignier, Florence Clostre. Crisis management of chronic pollution : contaminated soil and human health, CRC Press, pp.191-209, 2016, 9781498737838. ⟨ird-01559694v1⟩
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