Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD, also called biological oxygen demand) is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed (i.e. demanded) by aerobic biological organisms to break down organic material present in a given water sample at certain temperature over a specific time period. The BOD value is most commonly expressed in milligrams of oxygen consumed per litre of sample during 5 days of incubation at 20 °C and is often used as a surrogate of the degree of organic pollution of water.
BOD can be used as a gauge of the effectiveness of wastewater treatment plants. It is listed as a conventional pollutant in the U.S. Clean Water Act.
BOD is similar in function to chemical oxygen demand ( COD ), in that both measure the amount of organic compounds in water. However, COD is less specific, since it measures everything that can be chemically oxidized, rather than just levels of biodegradable organic matter.