ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
Learning outcomes of the course unit
Aims: to provide the basic concepts for the comprehension of: i) sources,
reactions, transport and destiny of chemical entities in the atmosphere,
water bodies and soil as well as their impacts on human health and on
the natural environment, ii) new approaches for the industrial synthesis
of chemicals through low impact processes (green chemistry).
basic knowledge of general, inorganic and organic chemistry
Course contents summary
1. short historical accounts
2. principles of environmental chemistry
3. molecular structure and physical-chemical properties relationship
4. pollutants from petroleum, PCB’s, dioxins, pesticides, polymers, soaps and detergents
5. abiotic transformations and degradation of chemical species through hydrolysis, oxidation, phototransformation and degradation processes: theromodynamic and kinetic aspects.
6. chemistry of natural waters and water pollution
7. chemistry of the atmosphere and pollution
8. soil contamination
9. transport and distribution of pollutants in the environment and among the environmental compartments
10. comparison between “classical” and “green” industrial processes for the synthesis of chemicals. Ideal reaction, atom efficiency, environmental factor E, use and selection of the better reaction solvent.
11. An integral part of the course will be the bibliographic work carried out autonomously by groups (composed by 3-4 elements) of students on assigned topics; the results of these researches will be presented to the all class.
In particular, trough topics 1-5 a rational approach to the chemical reading of the structural and chemical information characterizing the main classes of organic pollutants will be delivered as the elements for the understanding of the their persistence, environmental distribution and their effect on living organisns. Trough topics 6-9 a methodological approach for the comprehension of the fundamental chemical processes in the different environmental compartments and the distribution of pollutants among them will be delivered.
The aim of point 10 is to stimulate the abilities of Students to autonomously access to primary sources of literature data, to coordinate and integrate their knowledge and competences to deepen and gain ability to discuss with all other Students of the class an assigned topic related to the general aspects of the entire programme of the course.
Concept and definition of pollutant
Molecular structure physical chemical properties relationship, Kow,
Henry’s law and Henry’s constant
Relationship between molecular structure ad reactivity: short accounts on
basic thermodynamic and kinetic concepts
Abiotic transformation and degradation processes: oxidation, hydrolysis
phototransformation and photodegradation, estimation of photolysis rate
constants or phototransformation rate constants, example of calculation
Short accounts on biotransformation and degradation processes, kinetics
of transformation and degradation
Tipo testo Testo
Petroleum hydrocarbons: chemical nature of petroleum and its average
composition, the industrial chemistry of petroleum. Hydrocarbons in the
environment: dispersion, evaporation, dissolution, photooxidation,
microbial transformation. Petroleum and aquatic organisms.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins: nomenclature, origin, their
physical chemical properties, environmental distribution and behaviour,
Synthetic polymers: classification and nomenclature code, methods for
the synthesis of polymers. Environmental characteristics of synthetic
polymers: combustion, biodegradation, photodegradation, recycling.
Pesticides: chemical structure and synthesis of chlorinated hydrocarbon
pesticides, organophosphates, carbamates, pyretrins and pyretroids.
Physical chemical properties of pesticide, their environmental properties,
toxicity, bioaccumulation properties, ecological effects.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: their chemical nature, origin,
environmental behaviour, carcinogenicity and effects on human health
and the environment.
Soaps and detergents: classification and their synthesis, the active
cleaning agents, builders, bleachers. Toxicity, biodegradation, sorption
Chemistry of natural water: carbon and nitrogen transformations in
natural water bodies, salinity of seawater, vertical depth profile of
Water pollution: influence of chemical processes on dissolved oxygen,
BOD, kinetic of BOD reduction, seasonal variation and vertical profile of
dissolved oxygen, anaerobic degradation processes, the effects of
Atmospheric chemistry and pollution: vertical profile of atmospheric
temperature and pressure, the role of OH radical, ozone cycle,
hydrocarbons in the atmosphere. CFCs: classification, CFCs and the
ozone layer, their ODP and GWP. NOx and SOx: sources, toxicity and their
impact on the environment.
Soil contamination: sources and distribution of contaminants, soil/water
partition process, soil/organism process, ecological and health effects of
Distribution of chemicals in the environment: two-phase partition
processes in the environment, the fugacity concept, fugacity and
chemical distribution, the fugacity capacity factor (Z), chemical
distribution in a model environment, example of distribution calculation.
Basic principle of Green Chemistry: comparison between classical and
low impact innovative industrial synthesis of chemicals, the ideal
reaction, atom economy, the Environmental factor (E), use and selection
of the reaction media.
An integral part of the course will be the a cycle of seminars, organized
autonomously by groups of students focused on subjects of the frontal
lectures and aimed at deepening aspects of environmental chemistry in a
Des W. Connels: Basic Concepts of Environmental
chemistry, Lewis Publishers, N.Y. (1997); Ian J. Tinsley: Chemical
Concepts in Pollutant Behaviour, second Edition, Wiley Interscience
(2004); Clair N. Sawyer, Perry L. McCarty, Gene F. Parkin: Chemistry for
Environmental Engineering and Science, Fifth Edition, Mc Graw Hill (2003).
Textbooks in italian:
a) C. Baird, M Cann: Chimica Ambientale, third Ed.; Ed.: Zanichelli (Bologna)
b) S. E. Manahan: Chimica dell'Ambiente; Ed.: Piccin (Padova)
frontal lectures and seminars organized by Students
Assessment methods and criteria
oral; the ability of the candidate to access autonomously to primary
literature source concerning a specific environmental aspect end to set it
in a critical manner through the theoretical concepts of the course will be
At the beginning of the course a PDF file containing the material presented will be
provided to all Students