Did you know that sediment pollution is one of the leading causes of water pollution in the United States? In fact, it’s responsible for causing more than $16 billion in environmental damage every year.
Sediment can cause all sorts of problems for waterways, from clogging up water pipes to killing aquatic life. In this article, we’ll discuss what sediment pollution is and why it’s such a big problem for the environment.
Learn in This Article
- What Is Sediment Pollution
- What Are the Causes of Sediment Pollution
- What Are the Consequences of Sediment Pollution
- How to Prevent Sediment Pollution
What Is Sediment Pollution
When thinking about sediment pollution definition, small pieces of rock and soil that are washed into waterways come right to mind. Unfortunately, both natural and human causes of sediment pollution can have a number of harmful effects on the environment.
What Are the Causes of Sediment Pollution
As mentioned earlier, sediment pollution causes can be natural or artificial.
- Construction sites are a common source, as land excavation and grading can disturb the natural surface and release large quantities of sediment into waterways.
- Runoff from farmland is a major source of sediment pollution, as soil erosion can occur when fields are left bare or when crops are grown on steep slopes. In urban areas, pavement and buildings prevent rainwater from seeping into the ground, causing it to run off at high speeds and carry sediment with it.
- Lastly, during natural disasters like floods or landslides, large amounts of sediment can be displaced and end up in rivers or lakes.
That said, sediment pollution can have a serious impact on water quality, as sediments in water can contain pollutants like heavy metals or nutrients that can stimulate the growth of algae. Sediment also reduces the amount of light that penetrates the water, affecting photosynthesis in aquatic plants. This can lead to widespread ecosystem damage in rivers, lakes, and other water bodies.
What Are the Consequences of Sediment Pollution
When rivers and streams are polluted with sediment, it can have major consequences for the environment and human health. Sediment is made up of tiny particles of sand, clay, and organic matter.
Just like air pollution harms animals, so does sediment. Some sediment pollution consequences include the disruption of aquatic plants’ growth, depletion of oxygen levels, and creation of unsuitable habitats for fish and other aquatic animals. In addition, sediment pollution can clog the gills of fish and block their access to food. Sediment pollution can also have serious consequences for human health. When sediment-laden water is used for drinking or bathing, the particles can enter the body and cause respiratory problems, skin irritation, and gastrointestinal issues.
How to Prevent Sediment Pollution
In order to protect the environment and human health, it’s important to prevent sediment pollution by taking steps to reduce erosion and protect waterways from runoff.
Installing drain filters on your property might be the best choice, as they’re designed to capture sediment before it enters a waterway. Storm drain filters, such as the drain guard, gutter guard, gravel bags, and filter sock, serve as storm drain filtering devices.
Dust suppressants are chemicals that can be applied to surfaces to prevent the formation of dust. They are often used on construction sites and other areas where dust represents an air pollution issue.
Turbidity curtains are designed to keep sediment in place during construction or dredging projects. They are placed around the perimeter of the work area.
What Is Sediment Pollution: Key Takeaways
- Sediment pollution can have serious implications for water quality and ecosystem health.
- Runoff from farmland is a major source of sediment pollution, as soil erosion can occur when fields are left bare or when crops are grown on steep slopes.
- It’s important for the environment and human health to take steps to reduce erosion and protect waterways from runoff.
- Some of the best ways to prevent sediment pollution include installing drain filters, using dust suppressants, and placing turbidity curtains around work areas.