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Changes in modern effluent

As we’ve become more civilized we’ve modified certain factors that inevitably alter the degree of biological activity within our environment.

When examining the problems associated with human effluent, it’s important to bear in mind that microbial degradation in a Wastewater Treatment Works or septic tank is really an extension of the digestion of food stuffs that is initiated in the human intestines after the nutrients required by the body have been absorbed.

The effective treatment of liquid effluent is dependent on the presence of a healthy population of different microbes. These bugs exist as highly interdependent populations where the metabolites of one type of microorganism act as the energy source for another in a harmonious, synergistic relationship.

Where things go wrong

Man-made substances that negatively impact on biological activity include:

  1. Medicines
    Man's many medicines

    Most people regularly consume antibiotics, pain killers, stress-relieving drugs and alcohol, all of which have a deleterious effect on the natural flora in the human gut. This leads to a reduction in the necessary microbes leaving the body (in the stool) to continue their activity in the sewage disposal system, where they provide an integral balance to the team of microbes already working to degrade sewage wastes.

    A classic example can be seen on many farms where stall animals are routinely fed antibiotic additives to pre-empt a range of anticipated diseases. While this practice enables the farmer to produce the perfect pig, the manure is biologically inert and environmental problems with its disposal arise as a result. Usually it putrefies on the floor of lagoons or ponds, causing quite a stink that doesn't bode well with the neighbours!

  2. Biocides 

    Thirty years ago there were only a handful of disinfectants in the average home. Today, we live in a world obsessed with 'germ-killing' promises. Virtually all cleaning products from loo sprays and dishwashing liquids to face soaps and body creams are 'antibacterial'.

    Only a small percentage of 'germs' in our natural environment are detrimental to man. The real danger lies in our ongoing pursuit to kill off all bacteria – even the good stuff. By doing this, not only do we render our effluent systems totally sterile, we open ourselves up to pathogenic infection. By religiously rinsing detergents (essentially poisons) down the plughole and toilet we reduce the population of good bugs that feed on fats, oils and greases (FOG) and degrade them into harmless, natural compounds that can be returned and used in the eternal food chain.

  3. Fats
    Fast food

    Many sewage problems stem from man-made fats used in food preparation. Highly refined 'trans fats' - such as those used in modern bread spreads, fast foods and convenience snacks - are especially to blame. This is generally referred to as 'organic overload'. The reason? In an attempt to minimize fat and cholesterol uptake by the body, these trans fats are highly refined and chemically complex. As a result, the modified nature of their molecular structure has made it increasingly difficult for the natural bacteria in the human alimentary tract to break down. Why? The majority of latent enzymes are only able to break down fats of a specific molecular shape and size, rendering them non-effective in degrading the 'new' fat molecules.

    So, while 'Eezy spreads' benefit the cook and satisfy the palate, these trans fats and their resultant greases are a source of endless trouble for the effluent engineer. Besides being a contributory cause to the unpleasant sulphide odours that emanate from many kitchen drains, sewers and Wastewater Treatment Works, anaerobic bacteria are the principal cause of corrosive sulphuric acid in the long rising mains (also called pressure lines) and pumping stations of municipal sewage systems.

Restoring the biological balance

Due to the increased use of medications, biocides and trans fats in our modern lifestyles, we have upset the natural biological balance in most waste disposal systems. Reduced populations of weakened microbes struggle against an avalanche of super fats resulting in deposits of anaerobic FOG, which overload grease traps, congest sewers and produce nefarious odours. Alarmingly, these factors have a negative effect on final effluent quality and could ultimately, if not redressed, jeopardize our fresh water supplies too.

Having researched the subject for many years, BIO-SYSTEMS has identified and isolated a broad selection of naturally-occurring microbes that we've harnessed to attack and degrade troublesome FOG. Our microbial blends are benign (non-pathogenic), they develop quickly, and are harmless. Most of our blends are in re-hydratable powder form. However, some of our products are in aqueous solution – for ease of application and rapid distribution when treating very hard surfaces like concrete and the insides of pipes, for example. Used as directed our bugs will degrade fatty build-ups in grease interceptors, sewer lines and pump stations. They will also out-perform pathogens such as E coli and Shigella in wastewater effluent, hydrocarbons in oil-contaminated soil and masonry, returning your drainage system to a healthy and universally acceptable environment.

For detailed info on how our 'friendly' bacteria degrade modern effluent, click on How ‘bugs’ actually work, or click on the Enzymes vs microbes link.

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