Volume 12, Issue 4 (July 1984)
Critique of the Standard Biochemical Oxygen Demand Method
The results of the five-day biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) procedure have historically represented information that is arbitrary in its meaning and interpretation. BOD results are too frequently accepted on “face value” with face value related partly to numerical value and partly to the opinion (or lack of understanding) of the interpreter. The Joint Task Group of the American Public Health Association, the American Water Works Association, and the Water Pollution Control Federation, which developed the BOD method for the 15th edition of Standard Methods, considered the problems with the method and certain improvements were introduced. A practical nitrification inhibitor was proposed, but an error in identifying a source for the reagent has lead to problems in method application. The method continues to require organic-free dilution water even though development of such water can be costly and unnecessary. Corrections for oxygen consumption by organic materials in the dilution water can be introduced into the procedure.