The effects of nine common aromatic pollutants from chemical industry on the bioactivity of anaerobic granules were examined. The granules were obtained from an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor treating wastewater containing colloidal starch. The specific methanogenic activities (SMA) of granules were measured at 37°C in serum vials using 3000 mg/l of colloidal starch as substrate, plus individual pollutants at various concentrations. The toxicity was expressed by the IR50 and IC50 values, i.e. the toxicant/biomass ratio and concentration at which levels the granules exhibited only 50% of their original bioactivities. Results showed that in general the granules exhibited mild resistance to toxicity of aromatic pollutants, probably due to the granules' layered microstructure. The toxicities, which were dependent on the nature of chemical functional group, of the aromatic pollutants were in the following descending order: cresols > phenol > hydroxyphenols/phthalate > benzoate. There was only marginal difference between the toxicity of the steric isomers. For the seven phenolic pollutants, the more hydrophobic the functional group the higher the toxicity. The granules' resistance to toxicity suggested the plausibility of anaerobic treatment of wastewater from the chemical industry.

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