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Hydrolysis of an organic molecule occurs when a molecule (R-X) reacts with water (H2O) to form a new carbon-oxygen bond after the carbon-X bond is cleaved. Mechanistically, this reaction is referred to as a nucleophilic substitution reaction, where X is the leaving group being replaced by the incoming nucleophilic oxygen from the water molecule.

Chemicals that are susceptible to hydrolysis contain functional groups that can be displaced by a nucleophilic substitution reaction. Substances that have the potential to hydrolyze include alkyl halides, amides, carbamates, carboxylic acid esters and lactones, epoxides, phosphate esters, and sulfonic acid esters. The lack of a leaving group renders a compound resistant to hydrolysis.

Aliphatic alcohols are resistant to hydrolysis because they lack a functional group that is hydrolytically reactive. Therefore, this fate process will not contribute to a measurable degradative loss of this substance from the environment.

Phototransformation in air:

Alcohols, C9 -11 -iso, C10 -rich has the potential to degrade in the atmosphere from hydroxyl radical attack and photodegradation can be a predominant daylight atmospheric degradation process for this substance. The photodegradation half-life of this substance as mediated by OH-attack is estimated as 0.67 days or 8.1 hours based on a 12-hour sunlight day. The half-life is calculated for a 12 -hr day because it normalizes degradation to standard day-light period during which hydroxyl radicals needed for degradation are generated.

Phototransformation in water and soil:

A conservative approach to estimating a photochemical degradation rate is to assume that degradation will occur in proportion to the amount of light with wavelengths >290 nm absorbed by the molecule. Aliphatic alcohols contain molecules that are oxygenated aliphatic compounds, which absorb UV light below 220 nm, a range of UV light that does not reach the earth's surface. Therefore, aliphatic alcohols will not undergo direct photolysis and this fate process will not contribute to a measurable degradative loss of this substance from the environment.