The influence of low concentrations of dissolved oxygen (DO) and the oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) on the denitrification activity of activated sludge has been studied in batchwise experiments. The ORP was maintained at different levels by automatic titration with air and the denitrification activity was determined by following the disappearance of nitrate. Oxygen was found to have a negative effect on denitrification even at lower concentrations than can be measured with conventional oxygen probes (<0.1 mg/L). The ORP was found to be a useful indicator of the DO concentration at this low level and the denitrification rate was found to decrease linearly with increasing ORP. However, the effect of the ORP on denitrification differed between sludges from different treatment plants. A linear relationship was also found between the ORP and the DO concentration in the region of measurable DO concentrations. Extrapolation of this straight line into the region where DO was under the detection limit indicated that oxygen exerts an inhibitory effect on denitrification at such low concentrations as a few μg/L.

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