The aim of this study was to assess the availability of the biodegradation potential of aniline and phenol as the indicator for evaluating pollutant impact on a river environment. Biodegradation tests employing river water microorganisms were carried out by a modified TOC-Handai method using aniline and phenol as substrates. Complete degradation time and half-life were determined as indicators expressing the biodegradation potential of aniline and phenol, respectively. Investigations in Lake Biwa-Yodo River basin for more than two years showed that the biodegradation potential of both compounds varied seasonally. In addition, aniline biodegradation potential seemed to be influenced by the hydraulic retention time at each sampling station, while downstream stations with large input of wastewater from the surrounding cities were divided from upstream stations by phenol biodegradation potential. Comparison of the biodegradation potential in rivers at different pollution levels also showed that polluted and less polluted rivers were clearly divided by phenol biodegradation potential. These results indicated that phenol biodegradation potential can be applied as an indicator for evaluating the soundness of river environment from the view point of ecological function.

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