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Impact of Copper Stress on Ammonia Oxidizer Activity in Nitrifying Activated Sludge

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This research seeks to determine the effect of copper stress on ammonia-oxidizing bacteria in an activated sludge wastewater treatment process. Wastewater bioreactors were perturbed with copper pulses, allowed to recover, and then perturbed again to determine the effect of repeated copper stress on the microbial community. The effluent ammonia concentration increased briefly in the perturbed reactors but recovered within one day after the initial copper exposure. During the second copper perturbation, the effluent ammonia concentration increased much less than it had during the first perturbation, indicating higher copper tolerance of the microbial community with respect to ammonia oxidizing activity. This was confirmed by batch experiments in which lower inhibition levels were observed for biomass that had experienced a previous copper exposure. Heterotrophic activities in the microbial communities were also inhibited by copper and took more than a month to recover to the same activity as observed for the control.

Keywords: Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria; activated sludge; copper inhibition; nitrification

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/193864711802721712

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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