Although phenol (C6H5OH) has been detected in decaying organic matter and animal urine, its presence in a surface stream is attributed to industrial pollution. Petroleum refineries, coke plants, and resin plants are major indus trial phenolic waste sources. Phenolic compounds and their derivatives are used in coatings, solvents, plastics, explosives, fertilizer, textiles, pharmaceuticals, soap, and dyes.

Treatment methods for phenol removal include biological (activated sludge, trickling filter, oxidation pond, and lagoon); chemical oxidation (air, chlorine, chlorine dioxide, ozone, and hydrogen peroxide); physical (activated carbon adsorption, solvent extraction, and ion exchange); and physicochemical (incineration and electrolytic oxidation).

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