Odour control: the little known secret to successful wastewater treatment

What happens to the water that flows down the drain after you are done with bathing, washing hands, flushing, laundry, dishes? And what happens to the water that is used in factories, hospitals, offices, and even farming after it has served its purpose? This water has chemicals (from dyes, medical procedures, soaps and detergents), bacteria, toxins, human waste and other impurities, and can harm the ecological balance if discharged into the environment. This water needs to be let into natural water bodies as bilge water, but only after it is treated at a wastewater treatment plant.

While water in natural water bodies like lakes, ponds and rivers is by no means pure, untreated wastewater should not be discharged into the ecosystem as it is contaminated and will pollute surface water or groundwater, and will harm or kill the vegetation and animals around or inside the water. And if you are a big fan of superhero comics, you simply know that releasing polluted water into natural water sources is how you create an unbeatable evil supervillain. Wastewater treatment is crucial in order to eliminate or restrict water pollution. And to prevent evil supervillains from taking shape.

Industrial pollution and sewerage are the two main reasons for water pollution. Wastewater treatment ensures contaminated water does not enter the ecosystem. While freshwater resources are getting exhausted at an alarming speed, it is prudent to switch to treated wastewater for purposes that do not necessarily depend on clean water. Properly treated wastewater has no pathogens or chemical compounds that may be hazardous for animal life or vegetation around or inside the water body and can be utilised for non-consumption purposes, thus reducing the strain on freshwater resources.

A wastewater treatment plant works by removing pollutants and impurities from wastewater generated as a result of industrial, commercial, agricultural and domestic activities so that the treated water can be returned to the ecosystem. With a series of physio-chemical processes, organic matter in the wastewater is broken down and the contaminants are removed from water. Mimicking nature’s own way of cleaning wastewater with the help of microscopic bacteria, biological processes involve adding beneficial microorganisms to the wastewater to decompose the organic component before the water is released into water bodies.

Industrial waste in wastewater contains many toxins and chemicals, and when these react with sewage, it emits foul odours. Odours might also emanate from anaerobic decomposition of organic matter in the wastewater. Hydrogen sulphide is naturally produced when anaerobic decomposition happens, and it gives off a very unpleasant smell, similar to rotten eggs. It gets released into the atmosphere quickly since it has very low water-solubility, and spreads to surrounding areas. Besides, the corrosive nature of H2S also runs repairs bills up in wastewater treatment plants.

There might also be smells of ammonia or another pungent smell similar to garlic, and these odours intensify when the weather is very hot. Mercaptans and amines present in wastewater are organic compounds containing nitrogen and sulphur and emit very strong odours that the human nose detects even when their concentration is very low. There are also water soluble gases, and sludge, that add to the odour. FOG (fats, oils, grease) in the wastewater also react with sewage and other impurities in water, emitting an offensive smell.

Keeping odours in check at wastewater treatment plants is a challenge but it is absolutely necessary since foul smells can affect the operations of the plant. Left uncontrolled, these odours affect employee health and job satisfaction and depending on the direction and velocity of wind, drift around into the surroundings and become the source of complaints from neighbouring localities, which can affect the reputation of the plant too.

In order to restrict these odours, some wastewater treatment plants seal the treatment basin or tank completely, using industry grade covers. Some other plants add chemicals to wastewater to work on odour-causing matter. Not only are these expensive, the chemicals used might be hazardous for the environment too.

Bacterial dosing is a relatively inexpensive and effective wastewater treatment method. Microorganisms play a significant role in cleaning and purifying wastewater and making it suitable to be released into the environment.

Treating with suitable bacteria can reduce the odour formation in wastewater treatment facilities substantially. The bacteria reduce BOD (biological oxygen demand), COD (chemical oxygen demand), TSS (total suspended solids) and also breakdown organic matter right at source, allowing minimal or no formation of odours at all. It is important to add the right kind of bacteria with appropriate metabolic properties so that they can degrade sludge and organic matter efficiently.

Bioclean is our revolutionary microbial bioremediation solution for aerobic treatment of effluent waters. The bacteria in Bioclean ensure rapid action against biodegradable matter and significantly reduce COD/BOD. Bioclean also reduces colour and odour of the treated effluent and can be used in a wide range of industries for all suspended growth processes.

Bioclean FOG, a carefully curated variant of Bioclean, is an effective solution for wastewater treatment plants to curb unpleasant odours. It comprises of a specially formulated combination of high enzyme producing microorganisms that work on fats, oils and grease in the system and completely degrade them, thereby preventing scum accumulation and odour formation.

Bioclean STP, another blend of carefully selected natural strains of microbes, degrades complex organic matter completely and minimises sludge volume, eliminating the chance of H2S formation completely. It speeds up the process of settling of the biomass in wastewater, and also suppresses pathogens in sewage water. Complete odour control also happens because fecal coliforms are reduced with the use of Bioclean STP.

Wastewater treatment is a complex process, and has to adhere with many compliances as well. Chemical treatments are not effective in removing the resultant odours of the process entirely, but tackling the issue right at the source with the right solution can eliminate the foul odours as well as the need of adding hazardous chemicals to wastewater that make it dangerous for the environment. It is time we turn to nature and learn how it works to set things right without harming any of its creatures, big or small.

Please fill the form below if you are dealing with unresolved odour issues at your wastewater treatment plant and we will come back to you with a solution obtained from nature and backed by science.

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