We use DFT to study the effect of molecular adsorbates on the conductance of metallic carbon nanotubes. The five molecules considered (NO2, NH2, H, COOH, OH) lead to similar scattering of the electrons. The adsorption of a single molecule suppresses one of the two available channels of the CNT at low bias conductance. If more molecules are adsorbed on the same sublattice, the remaining open channel can be blocked or not, depending on the relative position of the adsorbates. If a simple geometric condition is fulfilled this channel is still open, even after adsorbing an arbitrary number of molecules.