Oxidation of Substituted Phenols in the Environment: A QSAR Analysis of Rate Constants for Reaction with Singlet Oxygen

Paul G. Tratnyek, Jürg Holgné

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Substituted phenols can be oxidized by singlet oxygen (1O2), which is formed in sunlit surface waters, and it has been suggested that this reaction may contribute to the environmental fate of phenolic substances. In aqueous solution, the observed rate of phenol disappearance is due to reaction of both the phenolate anion and the undissociated phenol. In order to quantify the effect of substituents on the rates of these reactions, second-order rate constants have been measured for both species for 22 substituted phenols by use of a model system containing the sensitizer rose bengal. Correlation analysis based on half-wave oxidation potentials, E1/2, and on σ constants reveals significant quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSARs) for both the undissociated phenols and the phenolate anions. Ortho- and multisubstituted phenols have been included in the correlations. These QSARs are consistent with the rate-limiting formation of a precursor complex with a small amount of charge-transfer character and can be used to predict additional rate constants for a wide range of environmentally significant substituted phenols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1596-1604
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 1991


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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