Syllabus 40700/A1200

City College of New York

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry


40700/A1200 - Environmental Organic Chemistry                                 

Lecture: Twice a week, 1 hr 15 min


Senior-level undergraduate course focusing on examination of processes that affect the behavior and fate of anthropogenic organic contaminants in aquatic environments. Students will learn to predict chemical properties influencing transfers of hydrophobic organic chemicals between air, water, and sediments, based on a fundamental understanding of intermolecular interactions and thermodynamic principles. Mechanisms of important thermochemical and photochemical transformation reactions will also be briefly investigated, leading to development of techniques (such as quantitative structure-reactivity relationships, including some based on computational chemistry approaches) for predicting environmental fate or human exposure potential. Prerequisite: one semester of organic chemistry.


Texts:      R.P. Schwarzenbach, P.M. Gschwend, and D.M. Imboden. Environmental Organic Chemistry (third edition), Wiley-Interscience, NY, 2016


Grades:   Problem sets (five out of six), 30%; mini-project (due at end of semester) 10%; midterm exam (March 14) 20%, takehome exam (due April 18) 20%; final exam (2 hours in-class during finals period) 20%, up to 5% extra credit for class participation. Homework and exams emphasize application of principles discussed in class to quantitative solution of problems representative of those faced by environmental chemists and engineers.


Course objectives:

After completing this course, students should be able to:                                                   

  1. Understand how intermolecular interactions determine the chemical properties of organic compounds.
  2. Understand how chemical structure is connected to chemical property (vapor pressure, air-water partitioning, octanol-water portioning).         
  3. Be able to estimate chemical properties of contaminants.
  4. Understand how chemical properties determine the distribution of a compound in the environment
  5. Know the important thermochemical and photochemical transformation reactions.
  6. Be able to solve complex environmental problems.                                                   
  7. Apply the learned tools to predict the fate of a contaminant in the environment.
  8. Know the important classes of organic contaminants.



In compliance with CCNY policy and equal access laws, appropriate academic accommodations are offered for students with disabilities. Students must first register with The AccessAbility Center for reasonable academic accommodations. The AccessAbility Center is located in the North Academic Center, Rm. 1/218.  Tel: (212) 650-5913. Under The Americans with Disability Act, an individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. If you have any such issues, I encourage you to visit the AccessAbility Center to determine which services may be appropriate for you.


General Topic



Chapt. 1

Background Knowledge & Amazing World of Anthropo. Org. Chemicals



Chapts. 2/3

Backgr. Thermodynamics, Equilibrium Partitioning and Acidity Contstants



Chapt. 4

Earth Systems and Compartments



Chapt. 5

Environmental Systems; Phys. Processes and Mathematical Modeling



Chapt. 6





Partitioning between Bulk Phases



Chapt. 7

Vapor Pressure



Chapt. 8

Solubility and Activity Coefficient in Water; Air-Water Partition Constant



Chapt. 9





Organic Liquid-Air and Organic Liquid-Water Partitioning



Chapt. 10

Partitioning of Nonionic Organic Compounds Between Well-Defined …



Chapt. 11





General Introduction to Sorption Process



Chapt. 12

Sorption from Water to Natural Organic Matter



Chapt. 13

Sorption of Ionic Organic Compounds to Charged Surfaces



Chapt. 14

Aerosol-Air Partitioning: Dry and Wet Deposition of Organic Pollutants



Chapt. 15

Equilibrium Partitioning From Water and Air to Biota



Chapt. 16

Random Motion, Molec. & Turbulent Diffusivity &Transport at Boundaries



Chapts. 17/18

Air-Water Exchange



Chapt. 19

Interfaces Involving Solids & Exposure Assessment Using Simple …



Chapt. 20/28

Background Knowledge on Transformation Reactions …



Chapt. 21

Hydrolysis and Reactions with Other Nucleophiles



Chapt. 22

Redox Reactions



Chapt. 23

Direct Photolysis in Aqueous Systems



Chapt. 24

Indirect Photolysis: Reactions of Photooxidants in Nat. Waters…



Chapt. 25

Biological Transformation



Chapt. 26


Statement on Academic Integrity

The CCNY policy on academic integrity will be followed in this course. All students must read the details regarding plagiarism and cheating in order to be familiar with the rules of the college. Cases where academic integrity is compromised will be prosecuted according to these rules.  In addition, the Policy of Academic Integrity can be found online at


Students are expected to attend every class session of each course in which they are enrolled and to be on time. An instructor has the right to drop a student from a course for excessive absence. Students are advised to determine the instructor’s policy at the first class session. They should note that an instructor may treat lateness as equivalent to absence. (No distinction is made between excused and unexcused absences.) Each instructor retains the right to establish his or her own policy, but students should be guided by the following general College policy: In courses designated as clinical, performance, laboratory or field work courses, the limit on absences is established by the individual instructor. For all other courses, the number of hours absent may not exceed twice the number of contact hours the course meets per week. When a student is dropped for excessive absence, the Registrar will enter the grade of WU.

Last Updated: 03/19/2018 11:50