Organic chemistry is the study of carbon containing compounds and their properties. This includes the great majority of chemical compounds on the planet, but some substances such as carbonates and oxides of carbon are considered to be inorganic substances even though they contain carbon.
Organic chemicals are continually released into the environment in large quantities. For example, global production of mineral oil exceeds 3 billion tonnes a year and the amount of new organic chemicals made each year in research laboratories and industry is increasing exponentially. There is a need to understand how these organic molecules will interact with the environment in order to minimise their impact. To achieve this the type of reactions that organic molecules undergo needs to be understood.