Inferred metal toxicity during the biotreatment of high ammonia landfill leachate

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Two nitrification-denitrification systems were used to determine the possible inhibitory and/or toxic effects of supplementa metals addition to the nitrification-denitrification process in the treatment of a relatively high ammonia, low biodegradable carbon, municipa landfill leachate.

The addition of metals likely resulted in the precipitation of phosphorus which caused the nitrification-denitrification process to be inhibited due to the deficiency of bioavailable phosphorus. Even though the phosphorus concentrations in mixed liquor and system effluent samples filtered through Whatman No. 4 filters or glass-fiber filters appeared to be adequate, it was discovered that they were considerably lower when filtered through 0.45-µm membrane filters. This seemed to indicate that although some of the precipitated phosphorus passed through the Whatman No. 4 filter, it was not available as a nutrient for microbial metabolism. Therefore, only the phosphorus that will pass through a 0.45-µm membrane filter, and is defined as soluble in Standard Methods (1985) is readily available to the microorganisms. This should be monitored ensure sufficient nutrient availability in nitrification-denitrification treatment systems potentially exposed to metals capable of precipitating phosphorus. It is recommended that a minimum soluble phosphorus concentration of 0.5 mg/L be maintained to ensure adequate phosphorus for nitrification and denitrification; in addition, when conducting activated sludge metal toxicity studies, total or Whatman No. 4-filtered samples should not be used to determine the presence of adequate phosphorus.

Keywords: ammonia; biological treatment; denitrification; landfill leachate; nickel; nitrification; phosphorus; toxicity; zinc

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 1992

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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