ABSTRACT Understanding chemical transformations of contaminants and the resulting products is extremely important in devising proper monitoring methods for such contaminants and in assessing potential human exposure to the transformation products in the environment. Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can induce various photochemical transformations of contaminants in the environment. Alkylnaphthalenes are light-molecular-weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are one of the most widespread organic pollutants present in ambient air as a result of a variety of incomplete combustion sources. In this study, 1-methylnapthalene,a typical example of an alkylnaphthalene, was subjected to UV irradiation to investigate its transformation in the presence and absence of air. Twenty-one products were detected in the reaction mixtures. Some photo-oxidation products were identified, including both ring-opened and ring-retained oxygenated compounds, such as 1-naphthaldehyde, 1-naphthoic acid, 1-naphthalenemethanol and phthalic anhydride. Although dimeric products were observed in the presence of air, more were found in the presence of helium or argon gas, indicating a different photo-oxidation pathway from those commonly observed in other media, such as water. Under just 48 hours of exposure to the UV light in the presence of air, three major products were formed with a production yield of about 10% each. Compared to 1-methylnapthalene, the UV induced transformation products observed in this study are more volatile, acidic, water soluble or toxic. The formation of these products may significantly change our understanding of the risks assessed solely from the parent compound in contaminants research and supports the inclusion of airborne transformations of the parent compound in risk assessment.
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