Abstract

The composition of wastewater in sewer catchments is known to affect the performance of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). However, there is limited knowledge as to how catchment characteristics, such as types of catchment industries, impact odour emissions from downstream sludge processing and biosolids management. Odorous emissions from biosolids processing at WWTPs can represent a significant community impact when the local population is exposed to odours. The main odorants emitted from biosolids are volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), however, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in emissions may also be perceptable after the removal of VSCs in odour abatement systems. Types of compounds present in emissions throughout biosolids processing at five WWTPs of varying sizes and levels of treatment (primary only and primary and secondary) were analysed. The ratio of total VSCs to VOCs in emissions, and the sensorial importance of each class varied between the sites. As a number of the VOCs in emissions were of industrial origin, this variation is likely dependent on industrial flows into the upstream sewer catchment. The impact of different emission compositions on both activated carbon and biologically based odour abatement systems were discussed.

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