The Effect of Differentiating pH Levels on Dissolved Oxygen Levels in Water Contaminated with Organic Waste

Marlie Nightengale, Sean Pogue, Maeghan Rush, Traci Richardson


Sewage treatment plants in natural bodies of water, such as lakes and streams, affect the levels of dissolved oxygen in the water. Decreased levels of dissolved oxygen are detrimental to the health of the body of water, and the organisms that live in it, leading to the deaths of these organisms (Moore, 1942). Although research to determine the impact of pollutants on stream health have been conducted, scientists still do not know what in the sewage effluent causes the change in dissolved oxygen levels (French, 2014). Since sewage treatment plants add pollutants into the water, we will test to determine the effect of these potential pollutants by changing the pH level of samples of water and observing how these effect the level dissolved oxygen in the water due to changes in the health of organisms living in the water, which contribute to changes in dissolved oxygen. We took samples of water containing yeast, to represent a decomposer, as would be common in a natural body of water, and algae, and we added pollutants, a base and an acid, to samples of water to determine if the change in pH caused the change in dissolved oxygen levels observed in the previous study, because sewage treatment plants could be a source for a change in the pH of water. By determining what causes a change in dissolved oxygen levels in natural bodies of water, we can find other solutions to treat waste, and preserve our water.

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