This study aimed at determining the influence of ammonia volatilization on nitrogen removal in polishing (maturation) ponds treating sanitary effluent from upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactors in the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. An apparatus for the capture and absorption of volatilized ammonia in three polishing ponds in series was installed. Volatilized ammonia was captured by a chamber on the surface of the ponds and dissolved in boric acid solution, in order to estimate the amount of ammonia per unit surface area of each pond. Low rates of volatilization, below 0.2 kg/ha.d, in about 75% of samples from all the ponds, were observed. The mass balance of ammonia nitrogen of the ponds showed that the volatilization represented only about 2% of the total removal of nitrogen from the polishing ponds. The results obtained suggest that ammonia volatilization was a mechanism of little importance in nitrogen removal in the investigated polishing ponds.

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