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BOD kinetics information

The amount of oxygen required by aerobic microorganisms to decompose the organic


matter in a sample of water, such as that polluted by sewage. It is used as a measure of the
degree of water pollution. Also called biological

The amount of oxygen taken up by microorganisms that decompose organic waste matter in
water. It is therefore used as a measure of the amount of certain types of organic pollutant
in water. BOD is calculated by keeping a sample of water containing a known amount of
oxygen for five days at 20°C. The oxygen content is measured again after this time. A high
BOD indicates the presence of a large number of microorganisms, which suggests a high
level of pollution.

Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) is one of the most common measures of pollutant organic
material in water. BOD indicates the amount of putrescible organic matter present in water.
Therefore, a low BOD is an indicator of good quality water, while a high BOD indicates
polluted water. Dissolved oxygen (DO) is consumed by bacteria when large amounts of
organic matter from sewage or other discharges are present in the water. DO is the actual
amount of oxygen available in dissolved form in the water. When the DO drops below a
certain level, the life forms in that water are unable to continue at a normal rate. The
decrease in the oxygen supply in the water has a negative effect on the fish and other
aquatic life. Fish kills and an invasion and growth of certain types of weeds can cause
dramatic changes in a stream or other body of water. Energy is derived from the oxidation
process. BOD specifies the strength of sewage. In sewage treatment, to say that the BOD
has been reduced from 500 to 50 indicates that there has been a 90 percent reduction.

The BOD test serves an important function in stream pollution-control activities. It is a


bioassay procedure that measures the amount of oxygen consumed by living organisms
while they are utilizing the organic matter present in waste, under conditions similar in
nature. The other traditional tests or indicators for water quality are chemical oxygen
demand (COD) and pH.

For results of the BOD test to be accurate, much care must be taken in the actual process.
For example, additional air cannot be introduced. Temperature must be 20°C, which is the
usual temperature of bodies of water in nature. A five-day BOD test is used in
environmental monitoring. This test is utilized as a means of stating what level of
contamination from pollutants is entering a body of water. In other words, this test
measures the oxygen requirements of the bacteria and other organisms as they feed upon
and bring about the decomposition of organic matter. Time and temperature, as well as
plant life in the water, will have an effect on the test. High BOD burdens or loads are added
to wastewater by food processing plants, dairy plants, canneries, distilleries and similar
operations, and they are discharged into streams and other bodies of water.

Biochemical oxygen demand or BOD is a chemical procedure for determining the amount of
dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms in a body of water to break down
organic material present in a given water sample at certain temperature over a specific time
period. It is not a precise quantitative test, although it is widely used as an indication of the
organic quality of water.[1] . It is most commonly expressed in milligrams of oxygen
consumed per litre of sample during 5 days of incubation at 20 C and is often used as a
robust surrogate of the degree of organic pollution of water.

BOD can be used as a gauge of the effectiveness of wastewater treatment plants. It is listed
as a conventional pollutant in the U.S. Clean Water Act.

The BOD5 test

There are two commonly recognized methods for the measurement of BOD.

Dilution method

To ensure that all other conditions are equal, a very small amount of micro-organism seed is
added to each sample being tested. This seed is typically generated by diluting activated
sludge with de-ionized water. The BOD test is carried out by diluting the sample with oxygen
saturated de-ionized water, inoculating it with a fixed aliquot of seed, measuring the
dissolved oxygen (DO) and then sealing the sample to prevent further oxygen dissolving in.
The sample is kept at 20 °C in the dark to prevent photosynthesis (and thereby the addition
of oxygen) for five days, and the dissolved oxygen is measured again. The difference
between the final DO and initial DO is the BOD. The apparent BOD for the control is
subtracted from the control result to provide the corrected value.

The loss of dissolved oxygen in the sample, once corrections have been made for the degree
of dilution, is called the BOD5. For measurement of carbonaceous BOD (cBOD), a
nitrification inhibitor is added after the dilution water has been added to the sample. The
inhibitor hinders the oxidation of nitrogen.

BOD can be calculated by:

 Undiluted: Initial DO - Final DO = BOD


 Diluted: ((Initial DO - Final DO)- BOD of Seed) x Dilution Factor

BOD is similar in function to chemical oxygen demand (COD), in that both measure the
amount of organic compounds in water. However, COD is less specific, since it measures
everything that can be chemically oxidised, rather than just levels of biologically active
organic matter.

Manometric method

This method is limited to the measurement of the oxygen consumption due only to
carbonaceous oxidation. Ammonia oxidation is inhibited.

The sample is kept in a sealed container fitted with a pressure sensor. A substance that
absorbs carbon dioxide (typically lithium hydroxide) is added in the container above the
sample level. The sample is stored in conditions identical to the dilution method. Oxygen is
consumed and, as ammonia oxidation is inhibited, carbon dioxide is released. The total
amount of gas, and thus the pressure, decreases because carbon dioxide is absorbed. From
the drop of pressure, the sensor electronics computes and displays the consumed quantity
of oxygen.

The main advantages of this method compared to the dilution method are:

 simplicity: no dilution of sample required, no seeding, no blank sample


 direct reading of BOD value
 continuous display of BOD value at the current incubation time.

Furthermore, as the BOD measurement can be monitored continuously, a graph of its


evolution can be plotted. Interpolation of several graphs on a similar water may build an
experience of its usual evolution, and allow an estimation of the five days BOD after as early
as the first two days of incubation.[2]

Test Limitations

The test method involves variables limiting reproducibility. Tests normally show
observations varying plus or minus ten to twenty percent around the mean.[3]:82

Toxicity

Some wastes contain chemicals capable of suppressing microbiological growth or activity.


Potential sources include industrial wastes, antibiotics in pharmaceutical or medical wastes,
sanitizers in food processing or commercial cleaning facilities, chlorination disinfection used
following conventional sewage treatment, and odor-control formulations used in sanitary
waste holding tanks in passenger vehicles or portable toilets. Suppression of the microbial
community oxidizing the waste will lower the test result.[3]:85

Appropriate Microbial Population

The test relies upon a microbial ecosystem with enzymes capable of oxidizing the available
organic material. Some waste waters, such as those from biological secondary sewage
treatment, will already contain a large population of microorganisms acclimated to the
water being tested. An appreciable portion of the waste may be utilized during the holding
period prior to commencement of the test procedure. On the other hand, organic wastes
from industrial sources may require specialized enzymes. Microbial populations from
standard seed sources may take some time to produce those enzymes. A specialized seed
culture may be appropriate to reflect conditions of an evolved ecosystem in the receiving
waters.[3]:85-87

History of the use of BOD

The Royal Commission on River Pollution, which was established in 1865 and the formation
of the Royal Commission on Sewage Disposal in 1898 led to the selection in 1908 of BOD5 as
the definitive test for organic pollution of rivers. Five days was chosen as an appropriate test
period because this is supposedly the longest time that river water takes to travel from
source to estuary in the U.K. In 1912, the commission also set a standard of 20 ppm BOD 5 as
the maximum concentration permitted in sewage works discharging to rivers, provided that
there was at least an 8:1 dilution available at dry weather flow. This was contained in the
famous 20:30 (BOD:Suspended Solids) + full nitrification standard which was used as a
yardstick in the U.K. up to the 1970s for sewage works effluent quality.

The United States includes BOD effluent limitations in its secondary treatment regulations.
Secondary sewage treatment is generally expected to remove 85 percent of the BOD
measured in sewage and produce effluent BOD concentrations with a 30-day average of less
than 30 mg/L and a 7-day average of less than 45 mg/L. The regulations also describe
"treatment equivalent to secondary treatment" as removing 65 percent of the BOD and
producing effluent BOD concentrations with a 30-day average less than 45 mg/L and a 7-day
average less than 65 mg/L.[4]

Typical BOD values

Most pristine rivers will have a 5-day carbonaceous BOD below 1 mg/L. Moderately polluted
rivers may have a BOD value in the range of 2 to 8 mg/L. Municipal sewage that is efficiently
treated by a three-stage process would have a value of about 20 mg/L or less. Untreated
sewage varies, but averages around 600 mg/L in Europe and as low as 200 mg/L in the U.S.,
or where there is severe groundwater or surface water infiltration. (The generally lower
values in the U.S. derive from the much greater water use per capita than in other parts of
the world.)

Wastewater quality indicators such as the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and the
chemical oxygen demand (COD) are essentially laboratory tests to determine whether or not
a specific wastewater will have a significant adverse effect upon fish or upon aquatic plant
life.

Wastewater biochemical oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand

Any oxidizable material present in a natural waterway or in an industrial wastewater will be


oxidized both by biochemical (bacterial) or chemical processes. The result is that the oxygen
content of the water will be decreased. Basically, the reaction for biochemical oxidation may
be written as:

Oxidizable material + bacteria + nutrient + O2 → CO2 + H2O + oxidized inorganics


such as NO3 or SO4

Oxygen consumption by reducing chemicals such as sulfides and nitrites is typified as


follows:

S-- + 2 O2 → SO4--
NO2- + ½ O2 → NO3-
Since all natural waterways contain bacteria and nutrient, almost any waste compounds
introduced into such waterways will initiate biochemical reactions (such as shown above).
Those biochemical reactions create what is measured in the laboratory as the Biochemical
Oxygen Demand (BOD).

Oxidizable chemicals (such as reducing chemicals) introduced into a natural water will
similarly initiate chemical reactions (such as shown above). Those chemical reactions create
what is measured in the laboratory as the Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD).

Both the BOD and COD tests are a measure of the relative oxygen-depletion effect of a
waste contaminant. Both have been widely adopted as a measure of pollution effect. The
BOD test measures the oxygen demand of biodegradable pollutants whereas the COD test
measures the oxygen demand of biogradable pollutants plus the oxygen demand of non-
biodegradable oxidizable pollutants.

The so-called 5-day BOD measures the amount of oxygen consumed by biochemical
oxidation of waste contaminants in a 5-day period. The total amount of oxygen consumed
when the biochemical reaction is allowed to proceed to completion is called the Ultimate
BOD. The Ultimate BOD is too time consuming, so the 5-day BOD has almost universally
been adopted as a measure of relative pollution effect.

There are also many different COD tests. Perhaps, the most common is the 4-hour COD.

There is no generalized correlation between the 5-day BOD and the Ultimate BOD. Likewise,
there is no generalized correlation between BOD and COD. It is possible to develop such
correlations for a specific waste contaminant in a specific wastewater stream, but such
correlations cannot be generalized for use with any other waste contaminants or
wastewater streams.

The laboratory test procedures for the determining the above oxygen demands are detailed
in the following sections of the "Standard Methods For the Examination Of Water and
Wastewater" available at www.standardmethods.org:

 5-day BOD and Ultimate BOD: Sections 5210B and 5210C


 COD: Section 5220

Any oxidizable material present in a natural waterway or in an industrial wastewater will be


oxidized both by biochemical (bacterial) or chemical processes. The result is that the oxygen
content of the water will be decreased. Basically, the reaction for biochemical oxidation may
be written as:

Oxidizable material + bacteria + nutrient + O2 → CO2 + H2O + oxidized inorganics such as


NO3 or SO4

Oxygen consumption by reducing chemicals such as sulfides and nitrites is typified as


follows:
S-- + 2 O2 → SO4--

NO2- + ½ O2 → NO3-

Since all natural waterways contain bacteria and nutrients, almost any waste compounds
introduced into such waterways will initiate biochemical reactions (such as shown above).
Those biochemical reactions create what is measured in the laboratory as the Biochemical
oxygen demand (BOD). Such chemicals are also liable to be broken down using strong
oxidising agents and these chemical reactions create what is measured in the laboratory as the
Chemical oxygen demand (COD).

Both the BOD and COD tests are a measure of the relative oxygen-depletion effect of a waste
contaminant. Both have been widely adopted as a measure of pollution effect. The BOD test
measures the oxygen demand of biodegradable pollutants whereas the COD test measures the
oxygen demand of oxidizable pollutants.

The so-called 5-day BOD measures the amount of oxygen consumed by biochemical
oxidation of waste contaminants in a 5-day period. The total amount of oxygen consumed
when the biochemical reaction is allowed to proceed to completion is called the Ultimate
BOD. The Ultimate BOD is too time consuming, so the 5-day BOD has almost universally
been adopted as a measure of relative pollution effect.

There are also many different COD tests of which the 4-hour COD is probably the most
common.

There is no generalized correlation between the 5-day BOD and the ultimate BOD. Similarly
there is no generalized correlation between BOD and COD. It is possible to develop such
correlations for a specific waste contaminants in a specific waste water stream but such
correlations cannot be generalized for use with any other waste contaminants or waste water
streams. This is because the composition of any waste water stream is different. As an
example and effluent consisting of a solution of simple sugars that might discharge from a
confectionery factory is likely to have organic components that degrade very quickly. In such
a case the 5 day BOD and the ultimate BOD would be very similar . I.e there would be very
little organic material left after 5 days. . However a final effluent of a sewage treatment works
serving a large industrialised area might have a discharge where the ultimate BOD was much
greater than the 5 day BOD because much of the easily degraded material would have been
removed in the sewage treatment process and many industrial processes discharge difficult to
degrade organic molecules.

The laboratory test procedures for the determining the above oxygen demands are detailed in
many standard texts. American versions include the "Standard Methods For the Examination
Of Water and Wastewater" [1]