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The Application of Electronic Nose Technology to Environmental Monitoring of Water and Wastewater Treatment Activities

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An electronic nose instrument was evaluated for its ability to monitor liquid wastewater samples, wastewater odor, and tainting compounds in water supplies. Current methods for measuring odors are based on human sensory panels (olfactometry) and used to determine 50% detection thresholds. Such methods are time consuming, labor intensive, and subject to large variation between analyses. An electronic nose, consisting of a nonspecific sensor array, could offer a more objective means of measuring odors emanating from water and wastewater. Monitoring of quiescent wastewater liquors from three treatment works over an 8-month period showed that an electronic nose could distinguish between wastewater samples of different types and origins. Threshold odor numbers obtained from olfactometry analysis were correlated with electronic nose output for wastewater odors from 10 treatment works. Results suggested that no universal relationship exists between these parameters; however, a strong linear relationship can be produced for odor samples that are site or source specific. The electronic nose was also tested for its ability to screen raw and treated water supplies for tainting compounds. This aspect of the work demonstrated that low levels of organic pollutants can be detected by monitoring water samples with the nose.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-05-01

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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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