Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 19, pp 19071–19083 | Cite as

Assessment of sulfide production risk in soil during the infiltration of domestic wastewater treated by a sulfur-utilizing denitrification process

  • L. Ghorbel
  • L. Coudert
  • Y. Gilbert
  • G. Mercier
  • J. F. BlaisEmail author
Research Article


This study aimed to determine the potential of sulfide generation during infiltration through soil of domestic wastewater treated by a sulfur-utilizing denitrification process. Three types of soil with different permeability rates (K s = 0.028, 0.0013, and 0.00015 cm/s) were investigated to evaluate the potential risk of sulfur generation during the infiltration of domestic wastewater treated by a sulfur-utilizing denitrification system. These soils were thoroughly characterized and tested to assess their capacity to be used as drainages for wastewaters. Experiments were conducted under two operating modes (saturated and unsaturated). Sulfate, sulfide, and chemical oxygen demand (COD) levels were determined over a period of 100 days. Despite the high concentration of sulfates (200 mg/L) under anaerobic conditions (ORP = −297 mV), no significant amount of sulfide was generated in the aqueous (<0.2 mg/L) or gaseous (<0.15 ppm) phases. Furthermore, the soil permeability did not have a noticeable effect on the infiltration of domestic wastewater treated by a sulfur-utilizing denitrification system due to low contents of organic matter (i.e., dissolved organic carbon, DOC). The autotrophic denitrification process used to treat the domestic wastewater allowed the reduction of the concentration of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5) below 5 mg/L, of DOC below 7 mg/L, and of COD below 100 mg/L.


Domestic wastewater Autotrophic denitrification Infiltration Soil Sulfide production 



Biochemical oxygen demand after 5 days


Chemical oxygen demand


Dissolved organic carbon


Hydraulic retention time


Permeability rate


Oxidation–reduction potential


Sulfate-reducing bacteria


Suspended solids



The authors acknowledge the financial and technical support of Premier Tech Aqua and the support from the Research funds of Quebec Nature and Technology. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada also contributed to this research. Sincere thanks are also extended to Robert Thomas and Ginette Bélanger for their contributions to this study. Sincere thanks are due to Myriam Chartier (M.Sc. and research agent) who helped a lot with the conception of the system and the day-to-day supervision during the experiment and analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Ghorbel
    • 1
  • L. Coudert
    • 1
  • Y. Gilbert
    • 2
  • G. Mercier
    • 1
  • J. F. Blais
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institut national de la recherche scientifique (Centre Eau, Terre et Environnement)Université du QuébecQuébecCanada
  2. 2.PREMIER TECHRivière-du-LoupCanada

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