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Water: Sediments



Sediments are fragmented materials that originate from weathering and erosion of rocks or unconsolidated deposits and are transported by, suspended in, or deposited by water. The sediments page leads to information about contaminated sediments and suspended and bedded sediments.

Contaminated Sediments in Water

Many of the sediments in our rivers, lakes, and oceans have been contaminated by pollutants. Many of the contaminants were released years ago while other contaminants enter our water every day. Some contaminants flow directly from industrial and municipal waste dischargers, while others come from polluted runoff in urban and agricultural areas. Still other contaminants are carried through the air, landing in lakes and streams far from the factories and other facilities that produced them.

Suspended and Bedded Sediments

Suspended and bedded sediments (SABS) are defined by EPA as particulate organic and inorganic matter that suspend in or are carried by the water, and/or accumulate in a loose, unconsolidated form on the bottom of natural water bodies. This includes the frequently used terms of clean sediment, suspended sediment, total suspended solids, bedload, turbidity, or in common terms, dirt, soils or eroded materials.


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