Environmental Implications of Hydroxyl Radicals ((•)OH)

Chem Rev. 2015 Dec 23;115(24):13051-92. doi: 10.1021/cr500310b. Epub 2015 Dec 2.


The hydroxyl radical ((•)OH) is one of the most powerful oxidizing agents, able to react unselectively and instantaneously with the surrounding chemicals, including organic pollutants and inhibitors. The (•)OH radicals are omnipresent in the environment (natural waters, atmosphere, interstellar space, etc.), including biological systems where (•)OH has an important role in immunity metabolism. We provide an extensive view on the role of hydroxyl radical in different environmental compartments and in laboratory systems, with the aim of drawing more attention to this emerging issue. Further research on processes related to the hydroxyl radical chemistry in the environmental compartments is highly demanded. A comprehensive understanding of the sources and sinks of (•)OH radicals including their implications in the natural waters and in the atmosphere is of crucial importance, including the way irradiated chromophoric dissolved organic matter in surface waters yields (•)OH through the H2O2-independent pathway, and the assessment of the relative importance of gas-phase vs aqueous-phase reactions of (•)OH with many atmospheric components. Moreover, considering the fact that people spend so much more time in dwellings than outside, the impact of the reactivity of indoor hydroxyl radicals on health and well-being is another emerging research topic of great concern.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atmosphere / chemistry
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyl Radical / chemistry*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydroxyl Radical