Nitrite is widely reported to inhibit anammox activity and growth. One modeling approach for nitrite impairment of anammox growth is the use of a nitrite sensitivity coefficient which increases the endogenous decay coefficient of anammox bacteria proportionally to nitrite concentration. The objective of this study was to measure nitrite concentration profiles within active anammox granules incubated at fixed bulk nitrite concentrations and to compare these with nitrite concentration profiles predicted by a biofilm model that incorporates the nitrite sensitivity coefficient. We developed an apparatus for the repeated measurement of nitrite concentration profiles along the radius of granular anammox biomass over a period of 6 days at fixed bulk nitrite concentrations. Granular anammox biomass was obtained from a two-stage bench-scale partial nitritation/anammox reactor system. There was no apparent effect of nitrite concentration on nitrite utilization kinetics after 6 days at exposures up to 90 mg NO2-N/L. These findings suggest that anammox bacteria tolerate extended exposures to elevated nitrite concentrations, and in its present form, the nitrite sensitivity coefficient is not applicable for anammox growth modeling.

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