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J Hazard Mater. 2009 Apr 15;163(1):1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2008.06.051. Epub 2008 Jun 21.

Cyanide in industrial wastewaters and its removal: a review on biotreatment.

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Department of Civil Engineering, National Institute of Technology Hamirpur, Hamirpur 177005, HP, India.


Cyanides are produced by certain bacteria, fungi, and algae, and may be found in plants and some foods, such as lima beans and almonds. Although cyanides are present in small concentrations in these plants and microorganisms, their large-scale presence in the environment is attributed to the human activities as cyanide compounds are extensively used in industries. Bulk of cyanide occurrence in environment is mainly due to metal finishing and mining industries. Although cyanide can be removed and recovered by several processes, it is still widely discussed and examined due to its potential toxicity and environmental impact. From an economic standpoint, the biological treatment method is cost-effective as compared to chemical and physical methods for cyanide removal. Several microbial species can effectively degrade cyanide into less toxic products. During metabolism, they use cyanide as a nitrogen and carbon source converting it to ammonia and carbonate, if appropriate conditions are maintained. Biological treatment of cyanide under anaerobic as well as aerobic conditions is possible. The present review describes the mechanism and advances in the use of biological treatment for the removal of cyanide compounds and its advantages over other treatment processes. It also includes various microbial pathways for their removal.

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