|Title||Potential Pitfalls in Wastewater Phosphorus Analysis and How to Avoid Them|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2021|
|Authors||Praveen Rosario, Ramya Viswash, Thamayanthi Seenivasan, Sudha Ramalingam, Katelyn L. Sellgren, Sonia Grego, and Lena Trotochaud|
|Journal||Environmental Health Insights|
|Keywords||non-sewered sanitation, nutrient pollution, onsite treatment, phosphate, phosphorus, standard solutions, Wastewater|
Due to the increasing adoption of nutrient discharge regulations, many research groups are stepping into new territory with phosphorus (P) measurements. Accurate reporting of P concentrations in effluent from novel wastewater treatment technologies is critical for protecting both environmental and human health. Analysis of P in wastewater is prone to pitfalls because of the (1) variety of chemical forms of P in wastewater (orthophosphate, condensed P, and organic P), (2) availability of different chemical assays for measuring different P forms, and (3) different conventions in the units for reporting P. Here, we present a case study highlighting how these pitfalls affect analysis and interpretation of P measurements. We show that, when used appropriately, commercially-available kits are indeed accurate tools for evaluating reactive P and total P concentrations. For both standard solutions and real wastewater, we systematically remove steps from the total P protocol to show how protocol deviations affect the results. While standard solutions are important for validating analytical methods, commercially-available wastewater standard solutions only contain P as orthophosphate (reactive P). We therefore demonstrate options for making a mixed-P standard solution containing acid-hydrolyzable and/or organic P compounds that can be used to validate both reactive P and total P assays.