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How exactly does dissolved oxygen affect water quality?

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A high DO level in a community water supply is good because it makes drinking water taste better. However, high DO levels speed up corrosion in water pipes. For this reason, industries use water with the least possible amount of dissolved oxygen. Water used in very low pressure boilers have no more than 2.0 ppm of DO, but most boiler plant operators try to keep oxygen levels to 0.007 ppm or less. Dissolved oxygen (DO) refers to the amount of oxygen dissolved in water and is particularly important in limnology (aquatic ecology). Oxygen comprises approximately 21% of the total gas in the atmosphere; however, it is much less available in water. The amount of oxygen water can hold depends upon temperature (more oxygen can be dissolved in colder water), pressure (more oxygen can be dissolved in water at greater pressure), and salinity (more oxygen can be dissolved in water of lower salinity). Many lakes and ponds have anoxic (oxygen deficient) bottom layers in the summer because of decomposition processes depleting the oxygen.

goldfishThe amount of dissolved oxygen often determines the number and types of organisms living in that body of water. For example, fish like trout are sensitive to low DO levels (less than eight parts per million) and cannot survive in warm, slow-moving streams or rivers. Decay of organic material in water caused by either chemical processes or microbial action on untreated sewage or dead vegetation can severely reduce dissolved oxygen concentration. This is the most common cause of fish kills, especially in summer months when warm water holds less oxygen anyway.

Dissolved oxygen (DO) refers to the volume of oxygen that is contained in water. Oxygen enters the water as rooted aquatic plants and algae undergo photosynthesis, and as oxygen is transferred across the air-water interface. The amount of oxygen that can be held by the water depends on the water temperature, salinity, and pressure. Gas solubility increases with decreasing temperature (colder water holds more oxygen). Gas solubility increases with decreasing salinity (freshwater holds more oxygen than does saltwater). Both the partial pressure and the degree of saturation of oxygen will change with altitude. Finally, gas solubility decreases as pressure decreases.

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Read Next:Oxygen in Your Drinking Water Supply

 

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