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Size Fractionation of Metals Present in Highway Runoff: Beyond the Six Commonly Reported Species

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Highway runoff is an important non-point source of pollutants, especially metals. This study reports monitoring results from 17 storm events at three highway sites for six commonly sampled metals: cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, and zinc. The study also reports the results of eight additional metals: aluminum, arsenic, cobalt, iron, manganese, selenium, strontium, and vanadium. Soluble phase, defined as passing a 0.45 μm filter, and particulate phase concentrations on four size fractions from 0.45 to larger than 100 μm are reported. The greatest metal masses were typically observed in the 8 to 20 μm fraction. The size distribution shows that sedimentation as a treatment process typically found in stormwater management can remove only 65% of the mass of most particulate phase metal species. Additional processes, such as coagulation or filtration, are needed to obtain greater removal rates. The results indicate the need to study particle size distribution (PSD) in order to better select treatment alternatives or assess environmental impacts.

Keywords: best management practices; highway runoff; particle size distribution; runoff treatment units; stormwater runoff

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2013

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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