Determination of the Sewage Indicator, Aminoacetone, in Aqueous Samples and its Correlation with Faecal Bacterial Samples

Mark F. Fitzsimons1, Mekibib Dawit2, Aboubakar Sako2,3 and Jennifer Jacobs2


Petroleum and Organic Geochemistry Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, Devon PL4 8AA, U.K.
2 Urban Pollution Research Centre, Middlesex University, Bounds Green Road, London N11 2NQ, U.K.
3 Program for Environmental Sciences, Arkansas State University, P.O. Box 870, State University, AR 72467, U.S.A.

Presented at: 2nd European Meeting on Environmental Chemistry, Dijon, France, 12th-15th December 2001.

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The potential of aminoacetone (AA) as a sewage indicator compound has already been reported, and the current work comprised of the following: 1) the development of an improved analytical method to determine AA in aqueous solution 2) a pilot study to determine its correlation with faecal indictor bacteria in sewage effluent.

AA was determined in aqueous samples as its hydrazone through reaction with 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine (DHPH), using a gas-stripping system connected on-line to a cartridge containing DNPH. The cartridge was eluted with acetonitrile and the hydrazone was determined by HPLC with UV detection. Recoveries were > 90% at the 10 ÁM level and the detection limit was 18 nM.

A pilot study was then undertaken to estimate the environmental lifetime of AA and its correlation with specific bacterial indicators in a sample of secondary treated sewage effluent. The AA concentration at the commencement of bacterial die-off was 1.5 ÁM and the analyte was persistent throughout the lifetime of the experiment. Although the data set was small, a correlation between AA concentration and bacterial numbers was evident, with r2 values of 0.8753, 0.8100 and 0.7986 for AA plotted against total coliforms, faecal coliforms and faecal streptococci, respectively. These results further indicate the potential application of this compound to the quantitative measurement of faecal contamination in surface waters.

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