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Posts Tagged ‘ammonia’

Ammonia: All You’ve Ever Wanted To Know

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

By Mark Hugdahl, Technical Director,  ALS Environmental – Canada

The synthetic production of ammonia by the Haber-Bosch process has been called the most important invention of the 20th century. Fritz Haber received the Nobel prize in 1919 for pioneering the “fixation” of nitrogen, where nitrogen gas is converted to ammonia, a reactive form of nitrogen that can easily be taken up by plants. Nitrogen from synthetic fertilizers now provides more than half of the nutrients required by the world’s crops. Without the ammonia produced from the Haber-Bosch process, our planet could not feed seven billion people.

Ammonia plays a key role in the global nitrogen cycle, and is produced naturally through the decomposition of nitrogen-rich organic matter. However, it is also a very common environmental pollutant, and in 1990 was listed as the top priority on Environment Canada’s Canadian Chemical Spill Priority List. Outside the fertilizer industry, anthropogenic point sources of ammonia include the textile industry, household chemicals, explosives, the plastics industry, oil refineries, iron and steel mills, meat processing plants, and sewage treatment plants.

At low levels, ammonia in drinking water is not considered toxic to humans. It is produced naturally in the human body, and is efficiently targeted and detoxified by specific enzymes. However, ammonia is highly toxic to fish and amphibians at very low concentrations, since they lack these enzymes.

Read more about Ammonia…

New and Revised Clean Water Act Methods Proposed

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

New and Revised Clean Water Act Methods ProposedIn August 2010 the EPA issued a notice proposing new and revised analytical methods to be used under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The proposed rule, entitled “Guidelines Establishing Test Procedures for the Analysis of Pollutants Under the Clean Water Act; Analysis and Sampling Procedures”, will affect numerous EPA Methods, ASTM Methods, Standard Methods, and alternative test methods.

EPA methods:

Read more about the proposed CWA Methods…

Odor Investigations

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Odor InvestigationsNuisance odors are a complex and subjective issue, often resulting in odor complaints directed at industrial or agricultural facilities such as wastewater treatment plants, landfills, large scale composting facilities, or animal feed operations. At these types of facilities, most odorous chemical compounds are produced under anaerobic conditions. Contrary to popular belief, nuisance odors themselves do not generally cause long term illness or any direct health effect.  In other words, if the source of the odor is taken away, any associated illness symptoms (e.g. nausea) will also go away. Therefore, unlike investigations centered on human health risk, investigations involving nuisance odor are governed by the perception of the receptor. A person’s perception of odor is related to the human olfactory system, which can vary widely from person to person; what smells bad to one person might not have an odor at all to someone else. To further confuse the issue, there is a distinct lack of odor regulations, and those that exist are extremely vague. The EPA defaults to the state level for nuisance odors, and most states defer to the county or local level.
Skunk

Odor is a parameter which may be measured unto itself, following established ASTM and/or European Standards. This approach will quantify how odorous a sample is, ranking it on a relative scale with units of dilution to threshold (D/T).

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