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Activated Sludge Inhibition by Chemical Stressors—A Comprehensive Study

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The effects of shock loads of 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene (CDNB); cadmium; 1-octanol; 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP); weakly complexed cyanide; pH 5, 9, and 11; and high ammonia levels on activated sludge biomass growth, respiration rate, flocculation, chemical oxygen demand removal, dewaterability, and settleability were studied. For all chemical shocks, except ammonia and pH, concentrations that caused 15, 25, and 50% respiration inhibition were used to provide a single pulse shock to sequencing batch reactor systems containing a nitrifying or non-nitrifying biomass. Cadmium and pH 11 shocks were most detrimental to all processes, followed by CDNB. The DNP and cyanide primarily affected respiration, while pH 5, pH 9, octanol, and ammonia did not affect the treatment process to a significant extent. A chemical source–process effect matrix is provided, which we believe will aid in the development of methods that prevent and/or attenuate the effects of toxic shock loads on activated sludge systems.

Keywords: SBRs; shock load; toxins; treatment upset

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2007

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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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