Phenol Toxicity and Remediation

Siew Yi Lee, Janna Ong Abdullah


Widespread applications of phenol in manufacturing industries and oil refinerieshaveresulted in unprecedented leakageof phenol into the environment. Its toxicity, remediation methods and degradation pathways were outlined in this review. Upon contact or ingestion, phenolcausesserious health effects such as tissuenecrosis and cardiac arrhythmia. Plantsexposed to phenolhavereducedseed germination index, inhibitedgrowthoreven fatality. There are many technologies currently practised to remediate phenol pollutionsuch asphysicochemical methods(adsorption to activated carbon and chemical oxidation), biological methods (biodegradation by bacteriaor fungus,andsoil bioaugmentation),and phytoremediation method (using hairy rootsof plants). As physicochemicaland microbial phenol degradation are destructive and costly, phytoremediation is widely studied as an alternative phenol remediator which is environmental friendly and cost-effective.Microorganisms can detoxify the aromatic xenobiotic through the aerobic or anaerobic pathway. Aerobic degradation of phenol is througheitherthe meta-or ortho-pathway of catechol cleavage while anaerobic degradation occurs through the benzoate pathway. In plants, degradation of phenol is also through catechol cleavage as in microorganisms. However, different enzyme systems areutilisedin the differentpathways involved.


Biodegradation, Pathways, Phenol, Physiochemical remediation and Phytoremediation.

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