A shift from chemical oxygen demand to total organic carbon for stringent industrial wastewater regulations: Utilization of organic matter characteristics

Ji Won Park, Sang Yeob Kim, Jin Hyung Noh, Young Ho Bae, Jae Woo Lee, Sung Kyu Maeng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

From 2022, industrial wastewater discharge regulations in South Korea will replace chemical oxygen demand (CODMn) with total organic carbon (TOC). A shift from CODMn to TOC is a pioneering change in protecting water bodies from organic contaminants. However, several industries are struggling to meet these TOC requirements even though their effluents met the CODMn limits. Effluent CODMn/TOC ratios (1.28 ± 0.64) found in our study were lower than the CODMn/TOC coefficients (1.33–1.80) suggested by the Ministry of Environment in South Korea. Aliphatic and particulate organic matter contents in effluents likely influenced the CODMn/TOC ratio. Regardless of the industrial category, dissolved organic carbon often consists of low molecular weight neutrals, hydrophobic organic carbon, and protein-like substances in raw and treated industrial wastewaters. The present study also revealed that TOC and CODMn represented different organic matter fractions in the paper mill and oil refinery wastewater, whereas the industrial park wastewater showed similar dissolved organic matter characteristics. Specifically, CODMn was effective in the determination of humic content in paper mill wastewater but was underestimated in oil refinery wastewater. Additionally, only paper mill effluents exceeded the TOC requirements (4 of 6 samples) and required an additional post-treatment process owing to higher organic loads.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114412
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume305
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Chemical oxygen demand
  • Discharge regulation
  • Dissolved organic matter characteristics
  • Industrial wastewater
  • Total organic carbon

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