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Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) waste residues and municipal waste water odor by dimethyl sulfide (DMS): the north-east WPCP plant of Philadelphia.

Author(s): Glindemann D, Novak J, Witherspoon J

Affiliation(s): Glindemann Environmental Services, Goettinger Bogen 15, D-06126 Halle, Germany. dglinde@aol.com

Publication date & source: 2006-01-01, Environ Sci Technol., 40(1):202-7.

This study shows for the first time that overlooked mg/L concentrations of industrial dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) waste residues in sewage can cause "rotten cabbage" odor problems bydimethyl sulfide (DMS) in conventional municipal wastewater treatment. In laboratory studies, incubation of activated sludge with 1-10 mg/L DMSO in bottles produced dimethyl sulfide (DMS) at concentrations that exceeded the odor threshold by approximately 4 orders of magnitude in the headspace gas. Aeration at a rate of 6 m3 air/m3 sludge resulted in emission of the DMS into the exhaust air in a manner analogous to that of an activated sludge aeration tank. A field study atthe NEWPCP sewage treatment plant in Philadelphia found DMSO levels intermittently peaking as high as 2400 mg/L in sewage near an industrial discharger. After 3 h, the DMSO concentration in the influent to the aeration tank rose from a baseline level of less than 0.01 mg/L to a level of 5.6 mg/L and the DMS concentration in the mixed liquor rose from less than 0.01 to 0.2 mg/L. Finding this link between the intermittent occurrence of DMSO residues in influent of the treatment plant and the odorant DMS in the aeration tank was the keyto understanding and eliminating the intermittent "canned corn" or "rotten cabbage" odor emissions from the aeration tank that had randomly plagued this plant and its city neighborhood for two decades. Sewage authorities should consider having wastewater samples analyzed for DMSO and DMS to check for this possible odor problem and to determine whether DMSO emission thresholds should be established to limit odor generation at sewage treatment plants.

Page last updated: 2006-01-31

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