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Environ Sci Technol. 2005 Feb 15;39(4):1101-10.

Nitration and photonitration of naphthalene in aqueous systems.

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Dipartimento di Chimica Analitica, Università di Torino, Via P Giuria 5, 10125 Torino, Italy.


The nitration of naphthalene was studied in aqueous solution to gain insight into the processes leading to the nitration of aromatic compounds in atmospheric hydrometeors. Reactants used were nitric acid, nitrogen dioxide and peroxynitrous acid in the dark, nitrate, and nitrite/nitrous acid under illumination. Naphthalene nitration can lead to two possible isomers, 1- and 2-nitronaphthalene. The former nitrocompound preferentially forms upon electrophilic processes and in the presence of nitrogen dioxide. Electrophilic nitration of naphthalene takes place in the presence of concentrated nitric acid, but nitration with nitric acid and oxidants (charge-transfer nitration) occurs under much milder conditions than with nitric acid alone. Charge-transfer nitration may have some environmental significance in particular cases, e.g. in acidic aerosols in the presence of HNO3 and oxidants. Nitrogen dioxide is thought to have a role in PAH nitration in the Antarctic particulate matter. In previous papers we have found that nitration induced by peroxynitrous acid, HOONO, can follow two pathways, the former electrophilic (leading for instance to the formation of nitrophenols from phenol) and the latter probably involving HOONO itself (accounting for the formation of nitrobenzene from benzene). In the case of naphthalene and HOONO the electrophilic pathway mainly leads to 1-nitronaphthalene, while the other one preferentially yields 2-nitronaphthalene. The nitration of naphthalene in the presence of nitrite/nitrous acid under irradiation leads to both nitroisomers in similar ratios, and the process is not inhibited by hydroxyl scavengers. This excludes nitrogen dioxide as reactive species for nitration and marks a difference with phenol photonitration and a similarity with the behavior of benzene under comparable conditions. Nitrite photochemistry (and nitrite-induced photonitration as well) is expected to be relevant in fog and cloudwater in polluted areas. An important difference with the gas-phase nitration is that the radicals OH and NO3 are unlikely to play a relevant role in the nitration of naphthalene in aqueous solution.

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