Friday, February 05, 2010

cabbage odour methyl mercaptan

Methanethiol is released from decaying organic matter in marshes and is present in the natural gas of certain regions, in coal tar, and in some crude oils.
In surface seawater, methanethiol is the primary breakdown product of the algal metabolite dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP). Marine bacteria appear to obtain most of their protein sulfur by the breakdown of DMSP and incorporation of methanethiol, despite the fact that methanethiol is present in seawater at much lower concentrations than sulfate (~0.3 nM vs. 28 mM). Bacteria in oxic and anoxic environments can also convert methanethiol to dimethyl sulfide (DMS), although most DMS in surface seawater is produced by a separate pathway. Both DMS and methanethiol can be used by certain microbes as substrates for methanogenesis in some anoxic sediments.
Methanethiol is a weak acid, with a pKa of ~10.4. This acidic property makes it reactive with dissolved metals in aqueous solutions. The environmental chemistry of these interactions in seawater or fresh water environments such as lakes has yet to be fully investigated.
The United States material safety data sheet (MSDS) lists methanethiol as a colorless, flammable gas with an extremely strong and repulsive smell. At very high concentrations it is highly toxic and affects the central nervous system. Its penetrating odor provides warning at dangerous concentrations. An odor threshold of 0.002 ppm has been reported. The United States OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit is listed as 10 ppm.
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