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Effects of Thiocyanate on the Formation of Free Cyanide during Chlorination and Ultraviolet Disinfection of Publicly Owned Treatment Works Secondary Effluent

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Cyanide has been detected in effluent of some publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) at levels exceeding influent concentration. Thiocyanate (SCN) is a cyanide-related compoundencountered in most POTW influents and may be decomposed to free cyanide (CN) under some circumstances. Effects of SCN on the formation of cyanide during chlorination and UV disinfection were studied through a laboratory study with synthetic solutions and POTW secondary effluent. Results indicated that CN was detected in SCN solutions after chlorination in which the chlorine dose or reaction time was not sufficient to destroy SCN completely, thus ensuring no residual chlorine to destroy any CN produced. It was also found that SCN can be broken down to yield cyanide by UV irradiation. In addition, SCN was observed to cause significant positive error in the conventional total cyanide analysis technique involving acidic distillation and colorimetric measurement when nitrate was present in the sample.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/106143004X141744

Publication date: May 1, 2004

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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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