In chemistry, an arene oxide is an epoxide of an arene. Two important families of arene oxides are benzene oxides and naphthalene oxides as these are intermediates in the oxidative degradation of benzene and naphthalene, two common pollutants. Benzopyrene is also converted to an epoxide, (+)-benzo[a]pyrene-7,8-epoxide.
Arene oxides are highly reactive. Benzene oxide and naphthalene-1,2-oxide hydrate to give dihydroxydihydrobenzene and 1,2-dihydroxydihydronaphthalene, respectively. The hydration is catalyzed by epoxide hydrolase enzymes. Dehydration of these diols, which is driven by rearomatization, gives phenol and 1-naphthol. Oxidation of 1,2-dihydroxydihydronaphthalene, catalyzed by dihydrodiol dehydrogenase, gives the 1,2-naphthoquinone.
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