Control of Occupational Exposure to Phenol in Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant of a Petroleum Refinery in Alexandria, Egypt: An Intervention Application Case Study
Phenol exposure is one of the hazards in the industrial wastewater treatment basin of any refinery. It additively interacts with hydrogen sulfide emitted from the wastewater basin. Consequently, its concentration should be greatly lower than its threshold limit value.
The present study aimed at controlling occupational exposure to phenol in the work environment of wastewater treatment plant in a refinery by reducing phenolic compounds in the industrial wastewater basin. This study was conducted on both laboratory and refinery scales.
The first was completed by dividing each wastewater sample from the outlets of different refinery units into three portions; the first was analyzed for phenolic compounds, the second and third were for laboratory scale charcoal and bacterial treatments. The two methods were compared regarding their simplicity, design, and removal efficiency. Accordingly, bacterial treatment by continuous flow of sewage water containing Pseudomonas aeruginosa was used for refinery-scale treatment.
Laboratory scale treatment of phenolic compounds revealed higher removal efficiency of charcoal [100.0 (0.0) %] than of bacteria [99.9 (0.013) %]. The refinery-scale bacterial treatment was [99.8 (0.013) %] efficient. Consequently, level of phenol in the work environment after refinery scale treatment [0.069 (0.802) mg/m3] was much lower than that before [5.700 (26.050) mg/m3], with removal efficiency of [99.125 (2.335) %].
From the present study, we can conclude that bacterial treatment of phenolic compounds in industrial wastewater of the wastewater treatment plant using continuous flow of sewage water containing Pseudomonas aeruginosa reduces the workers’ exposure to phenol.