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About this book

Environmental Chemistry is a relatively young science. Interestin this subject, however, is growing very rapidly and, although no agreement has been reached as yet about the exact content and Iimits of this interdisciplinary discipline, there appears to be increasing interest in seeing environmental topics which are based on chemistry embodied in this subject. One of the first objectives ofEnvironmental Chemistry must be the study ofthe environment and of natural chemical processes which occur in the environment. A major purpose of this series on Environmental Chemistry, therefore, is to present a reasonably uniform view of various aspects of the chemistry of the environ­ ment and chemical reactions occurring in the environment. The industrial activities of man have given a new dimension to Environ­ mental Chemistry. Wehave now synthesized and described over five million chemical compounds and chemical industry produces about hundred and fifty million tons of synthetic chemieals annually. We ship billions of tons of oil per year and through mining operations and other geophysical modifications, large quantities of inorganic and organic materials are released from their natural deposits. Cities and metropolitan areas ofup to 15 million inhabitants produce large quantities ofwaste in relatively small and confined areas. Much of the chemical products and waste products of modern society are released into the environment either during production, storage, transport, use or ultimate disposal. These released materials participate in natural cycles and reactions and frequently Iead to interference and disturbance of natural systems.

Table of Contents



The story of mercury can be traced back to prehistoric times. A precise dating is, however, impossible because reliable written records are lacking [1]. The first evidences of the use of mercury originate from the ancient Chinese, who used the metal and its principal ore cinnabar as a medicine to prolong life [2] and cinnabar for the preparation of red ink [3]. Often the Hindus [4], the Egyptians [5, 6], the Hettities [7], and the Assyrians [8] were credited with the use of mercury. Positive proofs for this assumption are, however, still lacking [9, 10]. The metal is said to have been known very early in Persia [9, 11] but a chronological assignment is impossible [12]. The Phoenicians exploited cinnabar in Spain from the 8th century B.C. but there is no direct evidence of their involvement with the metal [14]. In the 5th century B.C. cinnabar was used as a pigment by the Greeks [13, 15] but Aristotle is reputed to be the first in Europe who mentioned the metal itself [16].
G. Kaiser, G. Tölg


Cadmium is regarded as one of the most toxic metals, although there is no rigid order of toxicity of trace metals in the environment [1, 2]. The acute toxicity of cadmium upon inhalation or ingestion was recognized long ago and its chronic toxic effect on workers exposed to dust and vapor has been known approximately since 1948 [3]. Pollution by cadmium in aquatic systems appears to be less widespread than that by mercury, but has nonetheless had hazardous effects on humans. During 1947 an unusual and painful disease was recorded as of a “rheumatic nature” in the case of 44 patients from villages on the banks of the Jintsu River, Toyama Prefecture, Japan. It became later known as the “itai-itai” disease (meaning “ouch-ouch”) in accordance with the patients’ shrieks resulting from painful skeletal deformities; it is estimated that approximately 100 deaths occurred due to the disease until the end of 1965 [4]. However, the cause of itai-itai disease was completely unknown until 1961 when sufficient evidence led to the postulation that cadmium plays a role in its development [5]. Based on the findings of further government-supported studies, the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare declared in 1968: “The itai-itai disease is caused by chronic cadmium poisoning, on condition of the existence of such inducing factors as pregnancy, lactation, imbalance in internal secretion, aging, deficiency of calcium, etc.” [6].
U. Förstner

Polycyclic Aromatic and Heteroaromatic Hydrocarbons

Only a limited number of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and structurally related hetero-aromatic systems such as anthracene, pyrene or carbazole are industrially produced in pure form. They normally serve as a starting material for the synthesis of dyestuffs, herbicides and pesticides or pharmaceuticals. None of these commercially available pure PAH and hetero-aromatic systems show acute toxic or carcinogenic effects. Coal tar, which is a by-product in the manufacture of metallurgical coke, is the main source for the industrial production of these chemicals. The quantity of coal tar which is co-produced in the coal carbonization process amounts presently to about 16 M tonnes p.a.; three-quarters of this raw material is processed in the existing 127 coal tar refineries throughout the world [1]. The exposure of the environment with these chemicals occuring in the up-grading of coal tar can, however, be neglected in comparison with the exposure with PAH and hetero-aromatic systems from other sources.
M. Zander


“Fluorocarbons” is a term used to designate partially or completely halogenated alkanes containing fluorine, and with one or more, but primarily 1 and 2, C atoms. The general formula is
$${C_n}{H_{2n + 2 - x - y}}C{l_x}{F_y}, where x + y \leqslant 2n + 2.$$
J. Russow

Chlorinated Paraffins

Chlorinated paraffins discussed in this chapter are compounds obtained by chlorination of C10–C30 paraffins to a chlorine content between 10 and 70%. The most frequent types of chlorinated paraffins are based on C12, C15, and C24 feedstocks and are chlorinated to 40–70% chlorine. Depending on the chlorine content, chlorinated paraffins range from mobile through highly viscous liquids to solids.
V. Zitko

Chloroaromatic Compounds Containing Oxygen

Phenols, Diphenyl Ethers, Dibenzo-p-dioxins and Dibenzofurans
A monograph covering the chemistry, pharmacology and environmental toxicology of pentachlorophenol has recently been published [1].
C. Rappe

Organic Dyes and Pigments

Color, which contributes so much to the beauty of Nature, is essential to the attractiveness and acceptability of most products used by modern society [1]. As long ago as the 25th century BC man colored his surroundings and clothes using a limited range of natural colorants of both animal and vegetable origin. Alizarin (18)1 extracted as the glycoside rubierythric acid from madder, was used by the ancient Egyptians and Persians, the use of indigo (16) obtained from Indigofera dates back to 3000 BC, and Tyrian Purple (6,6′-dibromoindigo), prepared from the sea snail Murex brandaris, has been used since the Roman era. However, the preparation in 1856 of the first synthetic dyestuff, mauveine (12), by Perkin gave birth to the development of many other important sectors of the modern chemical industry. Compared with natural dyestuffs, synthetic colorants are better able to meet the increasingly rigorous technical demands of the present day in terms of stability, fastness, etc. Color can add not only aesthetic appeal, but frequently provides an almost irreplaceable safety feature (traffic lights and signs, drug identification, control systems) [2].
E. A. Clarke, R. Anliker

Inorganic Pigments

In contrast to dyes inorganic colorants are generally used as pigments rather than in a molecular-dispersed state. Besides imparting color for decorative, indicatory and informational purposes, such pigments may serve various other or additional purposes like corrosion protection, filling or reinforcement.
W. Funke

Radioactive Substances

The purpose of this chapter is to show how to assess the detriment resulting from the release of radioactive materials to the environment. Because of the wide range of the subject and the limitation of space the chapter consists of little more than a listing of principles and concepts. A more adequate examination of these will require consulting the literature cited.
G. C. Butler, C. Hyslop


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