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Influence of High Levels of Total Suspended Solids on Measurement of Cod and Bod in the Yellow River, China


Using the Yellow River, China, the study explores the problem of the use of COD and BOD5 as water quality management parameters in the presence of very high levels of suspended sediment (TSS) that characterize this river. Although the amount of natural organic matter per unit of suspended sediment of the Yellow River is not high, the very high concentration of mineral sediment in the Yellow River results in a large concentration of organic matter, which artificially inflates the laboratory values of COD and, as a consequent, leads to greatly exaggerated reports of pollution of the Yellow River. BOD5 can more accurately reflect the pollution of the Yellow River than COD; however, measured values of BOD under-report the actual values due to settling of the sediment in the incubation chamber resulting in values that are 21.6--38.3% less than the actual values. Therefore corrections are required for laboratory COD and BOD values so that the values are not artifacts of the sediment regime. Our work provides new insight into this phenomenon and demonstrates how correction factors may be determined and used with pollution data. Our work also suggests that the actual pollution levels of the Yellow River are probably not as high as reported by monitoring agencies.

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Correspondence to Chen Jingsheng.

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Jingsheng, C., Tao, Y. & Ongley, E. Influence of High Levels of Total Suspended Solids on Measurement of Cod and Bod in the Yellow River, China. Environ Monit Assess 116, 321–334 (2006).

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  • BOD
  • COD
  • oxygen-consumption
  • suspended sediment
  • water pollution
  • water quality assessment
  • Yellow River