USGS - science for a changing world

Environmental Health - Toxic Substances



This page is no longer being maintained, and will eventually be phased out. The page will be archived and publicly available once it's phased out.



Aerobic - "Able to live, grow, or take place only when free oxygen is present." - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2009

Aerobic - "Requiring molecular oxygen." - International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, 1993

Aerobic - "Conditions under which molecular oxygen serves as the terminal electron acceptor in respiration or in metabolic oxygenation." - International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, 1996

Aerobic - "(a) Said of an organism (esp. a bacterium) that can live only in the presence of free oxygen; also, said of its activities. (b) Said of conditions that can exist only in the presence of free oxygen." - Wilson and Moore, 1998

Aerobic - "Aerobic organisms require oxygen to degrade organic compounds. They transfer electrons from the organic material to oxygen, which is termed the 'electron acceptor.'" - National Research Council, 1994

Related Definitions


Aerobic Biodegradation

Electron Acceptor

Electron Donor


Anaerobic Biodegradation



Natural Attenuation

USGS Information on Biodegradation

Related Headlines

Other Information on Biodegradation


International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, 1996, Glossary of terms relating to pesticides: Pure and Applied Chemistry, v. 68, no. 5, p. 1167-1193.

International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, 1993, Glossary for chemists of terms used in toxicology: Pure and Applied Chemistry, v. 65, no. 9, p. 2003-2122.

National Research Council, 1994, Alternatives for ground water cleanup: Washington, D.C., National Academies Press, 315 p.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2009, Glossary of technical terms: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, access date June 10, 2011.

Wilson, W.E., and Moore, J.E., 1998, Glossary of hydrology: Alexandria, Virginia, American Geological Institute, 248 p.



Disclaimer: The definitions on this page are provided for information purposes only, and do not indicate endorment by the U.S. Geological Survey.

USGS Home Water Climate Change Science Systems Ecosystems Energy and Minerals Environmental Health Hazards

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information:
Page Last Modified: Tuesday, 04-Aug-2015 14:26:50 EDT