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Organic Waste Discharge

A new ASTM subcommittee will develop proposed standards to analyze organic compounds discharged into sanitary sewers. Subcommittee D34.02 on Discharge of Organic Wastes into Sanitary Sewers is part of ASTM International Committee D34 on Waste Management.

“Considering the need for low detection limits and measurements that would assure all of the compounds of interest have been measured, sanitary sewers offer a challenge,” says John Burnett, laboratory supervisor, Engineering and Regulation Division, Bureau of Utilities, Department of Public Works of Baltimore County, Md. Burnett notes that there is a high content of organic solids in sewers and it is often possible that many of the compounds of interest may be strongly associated with those solids and not be measured accurately.

“There are currently no methods available for analysis of many specific organic compounds that have been discharged into sanitary sewers,” says Burnett. “As a result, it is not possible to judge the impact on the environment or the treatment plant.”

Proposed standards developed by the subcommittee will deal with organic compounds that cause damage to treatment plants and whether such compounds will harm aquatic species or animals that feed on aquatic species.

“Development of standards by D34.02 will provide defensible data for calculating limits on the quantity of compounds that can be introduced into the sewer,” says Burnett. “This, in turn, would assist in the establishment of guidelines for the application of municipal sludge to farmland for the production of organic foods. It would help producers plan and develop products for those who may have concerns over the presence of certain organic compounds in recycled waste products.”

All interested parties, particularly chemists and individuals with knowledge of industrial processes, are welcome to join in the standards developing activities of D34.02.

CONTACT Technical Information: John E. Burnett, Department of Public Works of Baltimore County • Columbia, Md. • Phone: 410-887-5488 | ASTM Staff: Alyson Fick • Phone: 610-832-9710 | Upcoming Meeting: June 14 (virtual meeting)

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.