Toxicity and inhibition of the bacterial population are increasingly being identified in many industrial wastewater plants. EBS’ Advanced Analytical Lab, located in Auburn, AL, is dedicated to identifying the compounds contributing to toxicity and inhibition, which results in the biological step of the wastewater treatment process not functioning to its full ability.
The testing involves the use of high-end laboratory instrumentation such as GC, GC/MS, ICP, and HPLC. The purpose of the testing is to identify known compounds of concern in industrial wastewater. The testing can identify 50 compounds or more which are known to have toxic or inhibitory effects on the bacteria responsible for achieving good biological wastewater treatment. Each suite of testing has been customized to the unique compounds of concern for each given industry. For example, pulp and paper mills have compounds present in their influent which differ from those found in the petrochemical or food and beverage industry. While paper mills typically struggle with things such as terpenes and resin acids, refineries are usually more concerned with various hydrocarbon compounds such as benzene and toluene. For the food and beverage industry, compounds such as quaternary amines and surfactants are more prevalent as they are used in large quantities to ensure proper sterilization of food processing equipment.
There are several benefits to beginning a routine practice of advanced analytical testing. Clients can monitor levels of these compounds to see trends of increasing or decreasing concentration over time. When various sample points throughout the system are tested, such as influent, aeration basin, and effluent, the effect of bioaccumulation can be observed. Bioaccumulation is a phenomenon whereby compounds enter the treatment system and adsorb to the biomass rather than passing through the system. Over time, this bioaccumulation can ramp up, and eventually, the levels of these deleterious compounds become much higher in the biological treatment system than levels entering the system. This concept of bioaccumulation can lead to not only a decrease in treatment efficiency (inhibition) but can ultimately kill biomass if left untreated (toxicity). By routinely monitoring these levels, customers can identify trends of increasing concentration before a widespread effect occurs and mitigate their effects by the use of appropriate corrective action. Simultaneously monitoring biological health using microscopy and basic chemical testing, customers can link trends in changing concentrations of these inhibitory compounds with changes in biological health. Using the EBS laboratory in Mandeville, LA in conjunction with the Advanced Analytical Laboratory in Auburn, AL, allows our clients to gain a complete picture of the biological health in their wastewater treatment by incorporating a variety of routine and complex testing.