Benign Metabolites

Metabolites are small molecules that are by-products of metabolism or degradation of larger molecules in a living organism. Metabolites can be formed during physiological metabolism in humans, during plant metabolism, or in other living organisms. Many of these metabolites have specific functions within the organism that help to regulate various processes. However, some can cause adverse health effects and are toxic to the environment. Benign metabolites refer to the metabolites that are non-toxic to an organism or the environment. This thinking is important in sustainability practices as design must account for product breakdown and not just the product itself in order to mitigate toxicity in humans and ecotoxicity. Benign parent compounds can break down into very harmful metabolites. This may be especially relevant to biologically active chemicals such as pharmaceutical and herbicides/pesticides that could be better designed to ensure degradation in the environment would produce benign metabolites.

Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at Yale

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