Highly branched compounds are more resistant to biodegradation.
1. Unbranched side chains on phenolic and phenoxy compounds are more easily metabolized than branch alkyl moieties.
2. Branched alkyl benzene sulfonates degrade more slowly than straight chains.
Short chains are not as quickly degraded as long chains.
1. The rate of oxidation of straight-chain aliphatic hydrocarbons is correlated to length of the chain.
2. Soil microbes attack long-chain mononuclear aromatics faster than short chains.
3. Sulfate-reducing bacteria more rapidly degrade long-length carbon chains than short-length carbon chains.
4. ABS detergents increase in degradability with an increase in chain length from C6 to C12 but not >C12.
Highly oxidized compounds, like halogenated compounds, can resist further oxidation under aerobic conditions but can be more rapidly degraded under anaerobic conditions.
With active halogens present, nonionic compounds are likely to be degraded by nucleophilic displacement reactions like hydrolysis.
Unsaturated aliphatics are more easily degraded than corresponding saturated hydrocarbons.
1. Alcohols, aldehydes, acids, esters, amides, and amino acids are more susceptible for biodegradation than the corresponding alkanes, olefins, ketones, dicarboxylic acids, amines, and chloroalkanes.
2. Increased substitution, higher chlorine content, and more than three cyclic rings hinder or greatly reduce biodegradation.
3. The more chlorine on the aromatic ring, the more resistant the compound is to biodegradation.
4. Aromatics with substituents are not available for bacterial utilization. Para substituents are more utilized than the meta or ortho substituents.
5. Mono- and dicarboxylic acids, aliphatic alcohols, and ABS are decreasingly degraded when H is replaced by the CH3 group.
6. Ether functions are sometimes resistant to biodegradation.
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