alexa Effects of pulp and paper mill effluents on the microplankton and microbial self-purification capabilities of the Biobío River, Chile.
Environmental Sciences

Environmental Sciences

International Journal of Waste Resources

Author(s): Karrasch B, Parra O, Cid H, Mehrens M, Pacheco P,

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Abstract Most studies focus on the ecotoxicity of pulp and paper mill effluents, rather than on how they affect the physicochemical and biological structure and the intrinsic ecological capabilities of the receiving watercourses. We investigated the impact of such effluents on the water quality, microplankton system and microbial self-purification capacity (degradation of polymeric organic compounds via extracellular enzymes) of the Biobío River in Chile. The physicochemical impact on the water quality was indicated by raised conductivity, by the pollution of the water body with nitrate, nitrite and soluble reactive phosphorus, by the appearance of tannin and lignin, and by the steady accumulation of inorganic and organic suspended matter (SPM) along the river. From the biological structure of the microplankton system, very low and declining concentrations of chlorophyll a and heterotrophic flagellate densities were determined. The pulp and paper mill effluents introduced high bacterial abundances and biomass concentrations into the river water. This reflects the effective use made of the abundantly available inorganic and organic nutrients within this industrial and municipal process water by bacteria adapted to these extreme environments, additionally supported by concomitant low grazing pressure derivable from low heterotrophic flagellate abundances. Indeed, in one section of the river affected by a pulp mill, the plant was found to significantly contribute to the self-cleaning capacity of the river. However, this elevated degradation capacity was not enough to compensate for the additionally discharged organic material which, together with the toxic effects of the paper plant effluents, significantly interferes with the ecological status of the Biobío River. This article was published in Sci Total Environ and referenced in International Journal of Waste Resources

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