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Protocol for Early Detection and Evaluation of Inhibitory Wastewater Using Combined Aerobic Respirometric and Anaerobic Batch Techniques

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Faced with the task of treating significant volumes of complex industrial wastewaters, the biological components of municipal wastewater treatment plants are operating under the risk of toxic or inhibitory contaminants from the industrial effluents that may be detrimental to their operation. This might lead to undesirable effluent toxicity and/or result in permit violations. Therefore, there is a need for upset early warning systems that can protect full-scale plants from toxic or inhibitory constituents in the incoming wastewaters. This study focused on the development of a protocol for rapid detection of potentially toxic inhibitory or toxic wastewaters using combined aerobic respirometric and anaerobic batch techniques. Aerobic respirometers equipped with automated data acquisition systems were used as potential early warning devices. The inhibition effect on carbon and nitrogen oxidation was assessed. The degree of inhibition was evaluated as the concentration causing 50% reduction in microbial activity, which was estimated by an inhibition model. Anaerobic toxicity assays were also conducted to evaluate the inhibitory effects of the toxic compounds to anaerobic inocula obtained from a master culture reactor fed with ethanol. The developed protocol for early detection of toxicity was validated using wastewater samples from a biotechnology industry and a food processing industry, and pure chemicals such as furfural and phenol. Varying degrees of sensitivity were observed in the study when different groups of microorganisms, wastewater samples, and chemicals were tested. The comparison of aerobic and anaerobic inhibition suggested the importance of using both aerobic and anaerobic cultures to maximize the necessary sensitivity of the protocol.
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Keywords: inhibition; oxygen uptake rate; relative activity; respirometry; upset early warning system

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-11-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    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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