Wastewater is commonly known for its potential to create odor nuisances from a variety of sources, including odors escaping from sewer manholes, wastewater treatment facilities, and animal factory lagoons. Odors in wastewater are usually caused by gases produced by the decomposition of organic matter. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is the most characteristic odor of septic wastewater and is produced by anaerobic microorganisms that reduce sulfates to sulfides. This gas is a colorless, inflammable compound whose odor is characteristic of rotten eggs.
A detectable gas in very low concentrations and notable for both its toxicity and its ability to corrode various materials used in sewer and treatment plant construction, is a major source of odor in wastewater treatment systems.
Although hydrogen sulfide is the most important gas formed from the standpoint of odors, other volatile compounds, such as indole, skatole and mercaptans, can be formed during anaerobic decomposition as well. These compounds can cause odors more offensive than that of hydrogen sulfide.
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