Environmental Significance Of Solids Determinations

The amount of dissolved solids present in water is a consideration in the water's suitability for domestic use. In general, water with a total-solids content of less than 500 mg/L is most desirable for such purposes. A higher total-solids content imparts taste to the water and often has a laxative and sometimes the reverse effect upon people whose bodies are not used to the higher levels. This is important to people who travel and to the transportation companies who are interested in the welfare of their passengers. Water with a high dissolved-solids content tends to stain glassware and has adverse impacts on irrigated crops, plants, and grasses. In many areas, it is impossible to find natural waters with a solids content under 500 mg/L; consequently it is impossible to meet this desired level without some form of treatment. In many instances, treatment to reduce the solids content is not practiced, and residents who regularly use such waters appear to suffer no ill effects. Standards generally recommend an upper limit of 1000 mg/L on potable waters.

The suspended-solids content of wastewaters discharged before or after treatment to natural waters is generally regulated. Suspended solids can float and form unsightly scum layers or sink and cause sediment buildup. For obvious aesthetic reasons, those using surface waters for recreational swimming, boating, or viewing, object to the sight of suspended material from wastewater discharge. The suspended-solids analysis is used to ensure that an important wastewater discharge requirement is being met.

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