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Open Access Measurement of Organic Nitrogen and Phosphorus Fractions at Very Low Concentrations in Wastewater Effluents

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The purpose of this study was to develop simple, accurate, and inexpensive measurement protocols for dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) and dissolved non-reactive phosphorus (DNRP) at low levels in wastewater effluents. Two protocols are presented—one to measure DON exclusively, and the other to measure DON and DNRP simultaneously. Currently, DON and DNRP are calculated indirectly by subtracting the dissolved inorganic fractions from the total dissolved concentration, resulting in significant errors. To increase the accuracy of DON measurements, effluent sample pretreatment using ion exchange to remove nitrate was applied. Spectrometric methods were selected to measure the inorganic fractions—the second derivative UV spectroscopy method for nitrate, and the malachite green method for orthophosphate. These methods, combined with the optimized persulfate digestion of the samples, can be used to measure total dissolved nitrogen and phosphorus accurately. The measurement ranges attained were 0.05 to 3 mg N/L for DON and 0.01 to 0.5 mg P/L for DNRP.

Keywords: dissolved organic nitrogen; dissolved organic phosphorus; ion-exchange pretreatment; measurement

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-08-01

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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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