Volatile halogenated organic compounds synthesized by various industrial processes are troublesome pollutants because they are persistent in terrestrial ecosystems and because they may be present in sufficient quantities to alter the natural atmospheric cycles of the halogens. Certain of these compounds, including polybromomethanes and several previously unobserved alkyl monohalides and dihalides, appear to be natural products of the marine environment. A variety of temperate marine macroalgae (the brown algae Ascophyllum nodosum and Fucus vesiculosis, the green algae Enteromorpha linza and Ulva lacta, and the red alga Gigartina stellata) not only contain volatile halogenated organic compounds but also release them to seawater at rates of nanograms to micrograms of each compound per gram of dry algae per day. The macroalgae may be an important source of bromine-containing material released to the atmosphere.
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