Performic acid, or PFA (CH2O3), is a well-known oxidizing agent and disinfectant in the medical field and food industry. It has recently become available on a commercial scale for potential use in wastewater disinfection. This study investigated its application to an advanced primary effluent which is recalcitrant to disinfection by UV and peracetic acid (PAA). Methods were developed for determining PFA concentrations in stock solutions as well as in residual concentrations in the wastewater. Batch and continuous-flow pilot studies showed a correlation between log fecal coliform removals and PFA doses. A PFA dose of approximately 3.4 mg/L and a contact time of 45 minutes could achieve 3-logs removal, and almost total disinfection could be achieved using a dose of 6 mg/L. The by-products of PFA addition are hydrogen peroxide and formic acid (CHOOH), neither of which is considered to be toxic to aquatic fauna at the doses required for disinfection.

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