Chemical and Material Risk Management Program

The Basics


What is RDX?

RDX is a white crystalline solid also known as Royal Demolition explosive that is mixed with other explosives, oils, or waxes in making military munitions and other products.

What are common uses of RDX?

  • RDX is used in a large number of explosives and demolition blocks.

Why is RDX on the DoD Emerging Chemicals Action List?

  • RDX is one of the most powerful high explosives available and is present in over 4,000 military items, from large bombs to very small igniters.
  • Some states such as Massachusetts and Tennessee are developing new regulatory standards for RDX.
  • RDX is on the EPA’s Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List (CCL). The CCL is a list of unregulated contaminants that may require the development of a national drinking water regulation in the future.
  • EPA is looking to update its toxicity benchmarks and health risk assessment for RDX in its database of chemical risk values, the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) and is considering new health data.
  • RDX is one of most powerful of the military high explosives and it is also very stable in storage. This stability ensures that personnel can manage the material while minimizing accidents and other dangers.
  • The military uses RDX as an ingredient in plastic bonded explosives, or plastic explosives which have been used as explosive “fill” in almost all types of munitions compounds.
  • As a military explosive, RDX can be used alone as a base charge for detonators or mixed with other explosives in producing bursting charges for aerial bombs, mines, and torpedoes.

How is the DoD managing environmental and health risks posed by RDX?

  • DoD continues to investigate and respond to RDX releases at installations and Formerly Used Defense Sites as part of DoD’s overall environmental restoration program.
  • Existing RDX toxicity and carcinogenicity data are 20 years old; federal agencies are working together to generate new environmental health data. EPA will use the new data in its ongoing evaluation of the toxicity values for RDX.

Where can I get more information?