Everyday Pollutants

  • Floatables: Floatables are pieces of litter in the water. They may be contaminated with toxic chemicals and bacteria. Floatables are also an eyesore in our waterways. Commonly observed floatables include cigarettes, plastic containers, wrappers and cans. Floatables such as these are generally the result of careless handling practices or littering.
  • Sediment: Sediment can be harmful to aquatic life (plants, fish and other animals that live in lakes and streams). Sediments can carry chemicals that are toxic and that cause the oxygen in water to be used up. Sediment covers the bottoms of streams, harming the habitat needed by aquatic insects and plants. Sediment generally is the result of soil erosion from lawns, hillsides, gardening/landscaping activities. Large amounts of sediment can reduce the capacity of streams to carry storm runoff, thus necessitating expending tax dollars for maintenance of the system.
  • Oil and Grease: Petroleum products (gasoline, oil and grease) may be toxic to aquatic life, even in small amounts. Oil and grease in storm drains can generally be traced to automotive leaks and spills or improper disposal of used oil an automotive products into storm drains.
  • Pesticides, Herbicides, and Fertilizers: Excess amounts of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers applied to yards, lawns and greenways are washed into streams during rainfall events. These chemicals can cause increased algae growth and toxicity to organisms.
  • Metals: Metals such as lead, zinc, mercury, copper, and cadmium in water can be toxic to humans, aquatic life and other animals that drink the water. Metals come from vehicle exhaust, weathered paint, metal plating, tires, and motor oil.
  • Toxic Substances: Gasoline, household products, and paint thinner are examples of toxic substances. These substances can deplete oxygen in waterways and cause toxic effects in living organisms. Potential pollutants that may be present in residential areas, business and construction sites are listed below.
  • Residential: Pet waste, vehicle fluids (oil, gas, antifreeze), paint, pesticides, solvents, batteries, hazardous wastes, grass clippings, tree trimmings, leaves, street litter, and soap from car washing.
  • Businesses: Fuel, soap from equipment washing, waste process water, and hazardous liquids.
  • Construction: Sediment, wash water from concrete mixers, used oils and solvents, landscaping materials (trees, shrubs, soil additives), and vehicle fluids (oil, gas and antifreeze).