Reactive forms of cerium oxide were prepared by a thermal decomposition of various precursors, namely carbonates, oxalates and citrates, commercially available nanocrystalline cerium oxide (nanoceria) was involved in the study for comparison. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and x-ray diffraction analysis (XRD) were used to examine the morphology and crystallinity of the samples, respectively, whereas the Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) method of nitrogen adsorption was used to determine surface areas. Interactions of cerium oxide with some phosphorus-containing compounds were investigated. Some of the examined samples, especially those prepared by annealing from carbonate precursors, exhibited an outstanding ability to destroy highly toxic organophosphates, such as pesticides (parathion methyl), or nerve agents (soman, VX). There were identified some relations between the degradation efficiency of cerium oxides and their crystallinity. It was also shown that cerium oxide is able to destroy one of widely used flame retardants - triphenyl phosphate. A phosphatase-mimetic activity of various cerium oxides was examined with the aid of a standardized phosphatase test.
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