The presence of toxic aromatic organic compounds in industrial wastewater affects the efficiency of conventional biological treatment. The oxidizing power of ozone represents an interesting pretreatment to reduce toxicity and increase biodegradability. At low pH, ozone is known to attack electron-rich structures by direct electrophilic reactions which open aromatic rings, and generate smaller oxidized compounds. This paper reports experimental results on kinetic and toxicity aspects of ozone direct reactions with 1,2-dihydrobenzene. This toxic compound is frequently found in cellulose bleaching effluents. Although the reaction pathway is rather complex, 4-carbon compounds, such as maleic acid, are readily formed during the first stage of ozonation. These 4-carbon compounds are further oxidized to form smaller molecules (mostly 2-carbon, such as oxalic acid). The apparent kinetics of 1,2-dihydrobenzene follows a second order law, with a rate constant around 0.36 (dm3 mmol–1s–1), at pH 2 and 20°C. Results show that the BOD:COD ratio increase five-fold as ozonation progresses. Furthermore, the mutagenicity of 1,2-dihydrobenzene totally disappears as the aromatic compound is destroyed by ozonation.

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