Turbidity
Overview
 
Turbidity is the cloudiness or haziness
Haze
Haze is traditionally an atmospheric phenomenon where dust, smoke and other dry particles obscure the clarity of the sky. The World Meteorological Organization manual of codes includes a classification of horizontal obscuration into categories of fog, ice fog, steam fog, mist, haze, smoke, volcanic...

 of a fluid
Fluid
In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually deforms under an applied shear stress. Fluids are a subset of the phases of matter and include liquids, gases, plasmas and, to some extent, plastic solids....

 caused by individual particles
Particle (ecology)
In marine and freshwater ecology, a particle is a small object. Particles can remain in suspension in the ocean or freshwater, however they eventually settle and accumulate as sediment. Some can enter the atmosphere through wave action where they can act as cloud condensation nuclei...

 (suspended solids
Total suspended solids
Total suspended solids is a water quality measurement usually abbreviated TSS. It is listed as a conventional pollutant in the U.S. Clean Water Act. This parameter was at one time called non-filterable residue , a term that refers to the identical measurement: the dry-weight of particles trapped...

) that are generally invisible to the naked eye
Naked eye
The naked eye is a figure of speech referring to human visual perception unaided by a magnifying or light-collecting optical device, such as a telescope or microscope. Vision corrected to normal acuity using corrective lenses is considered "naked"...

, similar to smoke
Smoke
Smoke is a collection of airborne solid and liquid particulates and gases emitted when a material undergoes combustion or pyrolysis, together with the quantity of air that is entrained or otherwise mixed into the mass. It is commonly an unwanted by-product of fires , but may also be used for pest...

 in air. The measurement of turbidity is a key test of water quality
Water quality
Water quality is the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of water. It is a measure of the condition of water relative to the requirements of one or more biotic species and or to any human need or purpose. It is most frequently used by reference to a set of standards against which...

.

Fluids can contain suspended solid matter consisting of particles of many different sizes. While some suspended material will be large enough and heavy enough to settle rapidly to the bottom of the container if a liquid sample is left to stand (the settable solids
Settling
Settling is the process by which particulates settle to the bottom of a liquid and form a sediment. Particles that experience a force, either due to gravity or due to centrifugal motion will tend to move in a uniform manner in the direction exerted by that force...

), very small particles will settle only very slowly or not at all if the sample is regularly agitated or the particles are colloid
Colloid
A colloid is a substance microscopically dispersed evenly throughout another substance.A colloidal system consists of two separate phases: a dispersed phase and a continuous phase . A colloidal system may be solid, liquid, or gaseous.Many familiar substances are colloids, as shown in the chart below...

al.
Encyclopedia
Turbidity is the cloudiness or haziness
Haze
Haze is traditionally an atmospheric phenomenon where dust, smoke and other dry particles obscure the clarity of the sky. The World Meteorological Organization manual of codes includes a classification of horizontal obscuration into categories of fog, ice fog, steam fog, mist, haze, smoke, volcanic...

 of a fluid
Fluid
In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually deforms under an applied shear stress. Fluids are a subset of the phases of matter and include liquids, gases, plasmas and, to some extent, plastic solids....

 caused by individual particles
Particle (ecology)
In marine and freshwater ecology, a particle is a small object. Particles can remain in suspension in the ocean or freshwater, however they eventually settle and accumulate as sediment. Some can enter the atmosphere through wave action where they can act as cloud condensation nuclei...

 (suspended solids
Total suspended solids
Total suspended solids is a water quality measurement usually abbreviated TSS. It is listed as a conventional pollutant in the U.S. Clean Water Act. This parameter was at one time called non-filterable residue , a term that refers to the identical measurement: the dry-weight of particles trapped...

) that are generally invisible to the naked eye
Naked eye
The naked eye is a figure of speech referring to human visual perception unaided by a magnifying or light-collecting optical device, such as a telescope or microscope. Vision corrected to normal acuity using corrective lenses is considered "naked"...

, similar to smoke
Smoke
Smoke is a collection of airborne solid and liquid particulates and gases emitted when a material undergoes combustion or pyrolysis, together with the quantity of air that is entrained or otherwise mixed into the mass. It is commonly an unwanted by-product of fires , but may also be used for pest...

 in air. The measurement of turbidity is a key test of water quality
Water quality
Water quality is the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of water. It is a measure of the condition of water relative to the requirements of one or more biotic species and or to any human need or purpose. It is most frequently used by reference to a set of standards against which...

.

Fluids can contain suspended solid matter consisting of particles of many different sizes. While some suspended material will be large enough and heavy enough to settle rapidly to the bottom of the container if a liquid sample is left to stand (the settable solids
Settling
Settling is the process by which particulates settle to the bottom of a liquid and form a sediment. Particles that experience a force, either due to gravity or due to centrifugal motion will tend to move in a uniform manner in the direction exerted by that force...

), very small particles will settle only very slowly or not at all if the sample is regularly agitated or the particles are colloid
Colloid
A colloid is a substance microscopically dispersed evenly throughout another substance.A colloidal system consists of two separate phases: a dispersed phase and a continuous phase . A colloidal system may be solid, liquid, or gaseous.Many familiar substances are colloids, as shown in the chart below...

al. These small solid particles cause the liquid to appear turbid.

Turbidity (or haze) is also applied to transparent solids such as glass or plastic. In plastic production haze is defined as the percentage of light that is deflected more than 2.5° from the incoming light direction.

Causes

Turbidity in open water may be caused by growth of phytoplankton
Phytoplankton
Phytoplankton are the autotrophic component of the plankton community. The name comes from the Greek words φυτόν , meaning "plant", and πλαγκτός , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter". Most phytoplankton are too small to be individually seen with the unaided eye...

. Human activities that disturb land, such as construction
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

, can lead to high sediment
Sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....

 levels entering water bodies during rain storms due to storm water runoff
Surface runoff
Surface runoff is the water flow that occurs when soil is infiltrated to full capacity and excess water from rain, meltwater, or other sources flows over the land. This is a major component of the water cycle. Runoff that occurs on surfaces before reaching a channel is also called a nonpoint source...

. Areas prone to high bank erosion rates as well as urbanized
Urbanized
Urbanized is a 2011 documentary film by Gary Hustwit released on 26 October 2011 and considered the third of a three-part series on design known as the Design Trilogy, the first being Helvetica about the typeface and the second being Objectified about industrial design.The documentary discusses...

 areas also contribute large amounts of turbidity to nearby waters, through stormwater pollution
Water pollution
Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies . Water pollution occurs when pollutants are discharged directly or indirectly into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds....

 from paved
Pavement (material)
Road surface or pavement is the durable surface material laid down on an area intended to sustain vehicular or foot traffic, such as a road or walkway. In the past cobblestones and granite setts were extensively used, but these surfaces have mostly been replaced by asphalt or concrete. Such...

 surfaces such as roads, bridges and parking lots. Certain industries such as quarry
Quarry
A quarry is a type of open-pit mine from which rock or minerals are extracted. Quarries are generally used for extracting building materials, such as dimension stone, construction aggregate, riprap, sand, and gravel. They are often collocated with concrete and asphalt plants due to the requirement...

ing, mining and coal recovery can generate very high levels of turbidity from colloidal rock particles.

In drinking water, the higher the turbidity level, the higher the risk that people may develop gastrointestinal diseases. This is especially problematic for immunocompromised people, because contaminants like virus
Virus
A virus is a small infectious agent that can replicate only inside the living cells of organisms. Viruses infect all types of organisms, from animals and plants to bacteria and archaea...

es or bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

 can become attached to the suspended solid. The suspended solids interfere with water disinfection with chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

 because the particles act as shields for the virus and bacteria. Similarly, suspended solids can protect bacteria from ultraviolet (UV) sterilization
Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation
Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation is a sterilization method that uses ultraviolet light at sufficiently short wavelength to kill microorganisms. It is used in a variety of applications, such as food, air and water purification. UV has been a known mutagen at the cellular level for more than...

 of water.

In water bodies such as lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

s, rivers and reservoirs, high turbidity levels can reduce the amount of light reaching lower depths, which can inhibit growth of submerged aquatic plants and consequently affect species which are dependent on them, such as fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 and shellfish
Shellfish
Shellfish is a culinary and fisheries term for exoskeleton-bearing aquatic invertebrates used as food, including various species of molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms. Although most kinds of shellfish are harvested from saltwater environments, some kinds are found only in freshwater...

. High turbidity levels can also affect the ability of fish gills to absorb dissolved oxygen. This phenomenon has been regularly observed throughout the Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin covers in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West...

 in the eastern United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

For many mangrove
Mangrove
Mangroves are various kinds of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics – mainly between latitudes N and S...

 areas, high turbidity is needed to support certain species, such as to protect juvenile fish from predators. For most mangroves along the eastern coast of Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, in particular Moreton Bay
Moreton Bay
Moreton Bay is a bay on the eastern coast of Australia 45 km from Brisbane, Queensland. It is one of Queensland's most important coastal resources...

, turbidity levels as high as 600 Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU) are needed for proper ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

 functioning.

Measurement

The most widely used measurement unit for turbidity is the FTU (Formazin Turbidity Unit). ISO
International Organization for Standardization
The International Organization for Standardization , widely known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on February 23, 1947, the organization promulgates worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial...

 refers to its units as FNU (Formazin Nephelometric Units).

There are several practical ways of checking water quality, the most direct being some measure of attenuation
Attenuation
In physics, attenuation is the gradual loss in intensity of any kind of flux through a medium. For instance, sunlight is attenuated by dark glasses, X-rays are attenuated by lead, and light and sound are attenuated by water.In electrical engineering and telecommunications, attenuation affects the...

 (that is, reduction in strength) of light as it passes through a sample column of water. The alternatively used Jackson Candle method (units: Jackson Turbidity Unit or JTU) is essentially the inverse measure of the length of a column of water needed to completely obscure a candle flame viewed through it. The more water needed (the longer the water column), the clearer the water. Of course water alone produces some attenuation, and any substances dissolved in the water that produce color can attenuate some wavelengths. Modern instruments do not use candles, but this approach of attenuation of a light beam through a column of water should be calibrated and reported in JTUs.

A property of the particles — that they will scatter a light beam focused on them — is considered a more meaningful measure of turbidity in water. Turbidity measured this way uses an instrument called a nephelometer
Nephelometer
A nephelometer is a stationary or portable instrument for measuring suspended particulates in a liquid or gas colloid. A nephelometer measures suspended particulates by employing a light beam and a light detector set to one side of the source beam. Particle density is then a function of the...

 with the detector setup to the side of the light beam. More light reaches the detector if there are lots of small particles scattering the source beam than if there are few. The units of turbidity from a calibrated nephelometer are called Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU). To some extent, how much light reflects for a given amount of particulates is dependent upon properties of the particles like their shape, color, and reflectivity. For this reason (and the reason that heavier particles settle quickly and do not contribute to a turbidity reading), a correlation between turbidity and total suspended solids
Total suspended solids
Total suspended solids is a water quality measurement usually abbreviated TSS. It is listed as a conventional pollutant in the U.S. Clean Water Act. This parameter was at one time called non-filterable residue , a term that refers to the identical measurement: the dry-weight of particles trapped...

 (TSS) is somewhat unique for each location or situation.

Turbidity in lakes, reservoirs, channels, and the ocean can be measured using a Secchi disk
Secchi disk
The Secchi disk, created in 1865 by Pietro Angelo Secchi SJ, is a circular disk used to measure water transparency in oceans and lakes. The disc is mounted on a pole or line, and lowered slowly down in the water. The depth at which the pattern on the disk is no longer visible is taken as a measure...

. This black and white disk is lowered into the water until it can no longer be seen; the depth (Secchi depth) is then recorded as a measure of the transparency of the water (inversely related to turbidity). The Secchi disk has the advantages of integrating turbidity over depth (where variable turbidity layers are present), being quick and easy to use, and inexpensive. It can provide a rough indication of the depth of the euphotic zone with a 3-fold division of the Secchi depth, however this cannot be used in shallow waters where the disk can still be seen on the bottom.

An additional device, which may help measuring turbidity in shallow waters is the Turbidity tube. The Turbidity tube condenses water in a graded tube which allows determination of turbidity based on a contrast disk in its bottom, being analog to the Secchi disk
Secchi disk
The Secchi disk, created in 1865 by Pietro Angelo Secchi SJ, is a circular disk used to measure water transparency in oceans and lakes. The disc is mounted on a pole or line, and lowered slowly down in the water. The depth at which the pattern on the disk is no longer visible is taken as a measure...

.

Turbidity in air, which causes solar attenuation, is used as a measure of pollution. To model the attenuation of beam irradiance, several turbidity parameters have been introduced, including the Linke turbidity factor (TL).

Drinking water standards

Governments have set standards on the allowable turbidity in drinking water. In the United States, systems that use conventional or direct filtration methods turbidity cannot be higher than 1.0 nephelometric turbidity units (NTU) at the plant outlet and all samples for turbidity must be less than or equal to 0.3 NTU for at least 95 percent of the samples in any month. Systems that use filtration other than the conventional or direct filtration must follow state limits, which must include turbidity at no time exceeding 5 NTU. Many drinking water utilities strive to achieve levels as low as 0.1 NTU.

Ambient water standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

 (EPA) has published water quality criteria for turbidity. These criteria are scientific assessments of the effects of turbidity, which are used by states to develop water quality standards for water bodies. (States may also publish their own criteria.) Some states have promulgated water quality standards for turbidity, including:
  • Louisiana
    Louisiana
    Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

    . 25, 50 or 150 NTU, or background plus 10 percent, depending on the water body.
  • Vermont
    Vermont
    Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

    . 10 NTU or 25 NTU, depending on water body classification.
  • Washington. 5 NTU over background (when background is 50 NTU or less), or 10 percent increase when background is over 50 NTU.

Analytical methods

Published analytical test methods for turbidity include:
  • ISO 7027 "Water Quality: Determination of Turbidity"
  • US EPA Method No. 180.1, "Turbidity"
  • "Standard Methods," No. 2130B.

See also

  • Transparency and translucency
    Transparency and translucency
    In the field of optics, transparency is the physical property of allowing light to pass through a material; translucency only allows light to pass through diffusely. The opposite property is opacity...

  • Bottom trawling
    Bottom trawling
    Bottom trawling is trawling along the sea floor. It is also often referred to as "dragging".The scientific community divides bottom trawling into benthic trawling and demersal trawling...

  • McFarland standard
  • Stormwater
    Stormwater
    Stormwater is water that originates during precipitation events. It may also be used to apply to water that originates with snowmelt that enters the stormwater system...

  • Total suspended solids
    Total suspended solids
    Total suspended solids is a water quality measurement usually abbreviated TSS. It is listed as a conventional pollutant in the U.S. Clean Water Act. This parameter was at one time called non-filterable residue , a term that refers to the identical measurement: the dry-weight of particles trapped...

  • Water purification
    Water purification
    Water purification is the process of removing undesirable chemicals, materials, and biological contaminants from contaminated water. The goal is to produce water fit for a specific purpose...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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