Wastewater Terminology - The A-B-Cs You Need to Know

by:Jinwantong     2020-08-05
Most people not involved with wastewater treatment do not understand the various terms used in the business of wastewater treatment. There are many who would like to know and understand what these mean as wastewater treatment is emerging as one of the most environment-friendly industries. In this article, I have compiled some of the common wastewater terminology used in this industry.
1. Application Factor - Application factor usually represented in a numerical value, is the factor used to refer to the level of toxicity of wastewater. Numerically it is the ratio of Maximum Acceptable Toxicant Concentration (MATC) to the median Lethal Concentration, written as (LC50). This value is obtained using the following calculation AF = (MATC / LC50). This value is usually obtained as 0.1 to 0.01 as the normal range of concentration. This is considered as a traditional range of values. 1.0 is used as a reference for the 10:1 ratio of safety factor.
2. Autotropic Index - This index is a numerical value used to represent the quality of wastewater. It is calculated as the ratio of total dissolved biomass in the wastewater to the the total amount of chlorophyll that is used in the wastewater. This value is calculated by the following calculation AI = [total biomass (ash-free weight of organic matter) (mg/m^3) / chlorophyll a (mg/m^3)] This value varies with the amount of biomass present in the wastewater as well as due to the type of organisms constituting that biomass.
3. Beer-lambert Law - This law states that the amount of light absorbed in a transparent solvent shows a linear variation depending on the length the light has to travel and the strength of concentration of the light absorbing molecules. The molecules are represented by the dissolved solids in a diluted solution used as a sample of wastewater. This law is used during the spectroscopic analysis of wastewater to determine the level of concentration of dissolved solids. The law is represented as A = log(Io/I) = KCZ, where Io represents the intensity of the incident light, I represents the intensity of transmitted light, K represents the molar extinction coefficient measured as cm^3 / mol, C represents the absorbing medium's concentration measured as mol / l and Z represents the absorbing medium's thickness measured in cms
4. Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) - It is the quantity of oxygen required by the microorganisms present in the wastewater (or their demand, hence the name) to decompose the organic waste found in the wastewater. As the amount of waste gets decreased after decomposition by the bacteria, the microorganisms decline in number hence the BOD is also reduced. This is one wastewater terminology that is of great significance in wastewater treatment.
5. Bio-Concentration Factor (BCF) - BCF is the level of concentration of a particular chemical in any form of tissue per concentration level of that same chemical in water. This level is normally measured by using the fish tissue to determine the chemical concentration and to find out the concentration of chemicals in the water inhabited by that fish. This is represented in L/Kg. In wastewater this is used to determine the level of chemical effluents. This is best measured in the field, i.e. in wastewater treatment plants to get as close to an accurate value as possible.
6. Birth Rate (Daphnia) - Daphnia Magna is a species of microorganism that consume the coliform bacteria in wastewater contaminated by human waste. This process of filtration is biological in form. As such it can be used to treat water in ponds used as receiving water body for treated wastewater. Their growth or birth rate is dependent on the quantity of incoming bacteria brought by treated wastewater. Hence this rate is an important factor in wastewater treatment. This rate of birth is measured by the equation b = ln(l+e/n) / d, where, b represents the birth rate in a day, e represents the quantity of eggs, e/n is the ratio of eggs and d is the period of development of eggs or the number of days required for the eggs to mature into Daphnia. This time period has been observed to be two and a half days when the temperature of the wastewater is maintained at a constant 20 degrees C. This wastewater terminology is of significance to personnel involved in activated sludge treatment plants.
7. Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) - It represents the quantity of oxygen used in wastewater when the organic matter is being decomposed. It is also the amount of oxygen required to oxidize inorganic chemicals in wastewater, for example Nitrite and Ammonia. Like BOD this is an important wastewater terminology.
8. Chlorophyll a,b,c - Chlorophyll is an important photosynthetic pigment, very important to planktonic organisms like the algae. The three varieties of pigments a,b and c are used to determine the groups of algae present in wastewater. The values obtained for the three types of pigments is also helpful in determining wastewater turbidity.
9. Concentration Of Contaminant (In Receiving Water Bodies) - This wastewater terminology represents the differential increase in the amount of contaminants, biological or otherwise, in any receiving water body - pond, lake, stream, river, after the treated wastewater is added to it. This can be determined using the formula C = Cs + (1/S) (Cd - Cs), where, Cd is the concentration of the microorganism in the wastewater being discharged into the water body, Cs is the actual concentration of the microorganism existing in the water body and S represents the dilution factor.
Some of these wastewater treatment terms are more common in the testing laboratories than in the actual treatment plants.

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