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Application of respirometric biodegradability testing protocol to slightly soluble organic compounds

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Electrolytic respirometry was used to measure the biodegradability of six phthalate esters (dimethyl phthalate, diethyl phthalate, di-n-butyl phthalate, di-n-octyl phthalate, butyl benzyl phthalate, and bis [2-ethylhexyl] phthalate) and four polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (naphthalene, phenanthrene, anthracene, and 1,2-benzanthracene). Mineralization occurred for all compounds except anthracene and 1,2benzanthracene. Determination of all parameters describing biodegradation (μˆ, K S , Y, and b) was possible when a compound was present at a concentration below its solubility limit, but estimates of K S could not be made with higher concentrations. A modified parameter estimation routine that considered solubility was unsuccessful. Dissolution appeared to govern the degradation rate of compounds present in amounts exceeding their solubility, suggesting that the physical state of such compounds is an important characteristic governing biodegradation.

Keywords: biodegradation; dissolution; electrolytic respirometry; oxygen uptake; phthalate esters; polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons

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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