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© The Author(s) 2016. Due to the adverse impact of DDTs on ecosystems and humans, a full fate assessment deems a comprehensive study on their occurrence in soils over a large region. Through a sampling campaign across China, we measured the concentrations, enantiomeric fractions (EFs), compound-specific carbon isotope composition of DDT and its metabolites, and the microbial community in related arable soils. The geographically total DDT concentrations are higher in eastern than western China. The EFs and δ13 C of o,p'-DDT in soils from western China show smaller deviations from those of racemic/standard compound, indicating the DDT residues there mainly result from atmospheric transport. However, the sources of DDT in eastern China are mainly from historic application of technical DDTs and dicofol. The inverse dependence of o,p'-DDT and p,p'-DDE on temperature evidences the transformation of parent DDT to its metabolites. Initial usage, abiotic parameters and microbial communities are found to be the main factors influencing the migration and transformation of DDT isomers and their metabolites in soils. In addition, a prediction equation of DDT concentrations in soils based on stepwise multiple regression analysis is developed. Results from this study offer insights into the migration and transformation pathways of DDTs in Chinese arable soils, which will allow data-based risk assessment on their use.

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Scientific Reports