PH Effects

Since enzymes are responsible for microorganism activity, pH effects on enzymes translate to effects on the corresponding microorganism. Some enzymes like acidic environments, while some like a medium environment, and others prefer an alkaline environment. When the pH increases or decreases beyond the optimum, enzyme activity decreases until it disappears. For most bacteria, the extremes of the pH range for growth are 4 and 9, while the optimum pH for growth is within the range of 6.5 to 7.5. Bacteria, in general, prefer a slightly alkaline environment; in contrast, algae and fungi prefer a slightly acidic environment. Biological treatment processes, however, rarely operate at optimum growth. Full-scale, extended-aeration, activated sludge and aerated lagoons can successfully operate at pH levels between 9 and 10.5; however, both systems are vulnerable to a pH less than 6 (Benefield and Randall 1980).

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