The Role of Pollution Prevention in Stormwater Management
Around the nation, there is growing interest in the development and use of environmentally sensitive construction materials as a low-cost component to stormwater management. It is thought that the more appropriate selection of materials that are exposed to the environment should result in significant reductions of many toxicants in stormwater. Unfortunately, there is little data for specific alternative building materials, although much information exists targeting selected sources, especially the role of roof runoff as a significant source of zinc and other metals.
Past studies have identified urban runoff as a major contributor to the degradation of many urban streams and rivers (such as Field and Turkeltaub 1981; Pitt and Bozeman, 1982; Pitt and Bissonnette, 1984; Pitt, 1995). Previous studies also found organic and metallic toxicants in urban storm-induced discharges that can contribute to receiving water degradation (such as EPA, 1983; Hoffman et al., 1984; Fram et al., 1987). Studies conducted by Pitt et al. (1995 and 2000) investigated toxic contributions to urban wet weather flow from sources such as roofs, parking areas, storage areas, streets, loading docks, vehicle service areas, and landscaped areas. Roof, vehicle service area and parking lot runoff samples were found to have the greatest organic toxicant detection frequencies and the highest levels of detected metals.
Research is currently underway at the University of Alabama (UAB) to develop effective procedures for treating runoff from vehicle service areas and parking lots at its source (Clark and Pitt 1999; Pitt et al., 2000). These areas are particularly subject to spills and leaks of automotive products and exhaust emissions from frequently starting vehicles. These areas are usually isolated enough to make source area runoff treatment feasible. However, relative pollutant contributions from various roofing, wooden and paving materials themselves are also a concern which has not been adequately addressed. Due to the common use of these surfaces in our urban environments, reduction of emissions at the source is desirable, and material substitution would seem a good place to start.
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