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Water: Contaminated 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.

EPA is working to reduce the risks posed by contaminated sediments. You also can help reduce contaminated sediments by learning how sediments get contaminated, where the pollutants come from, how these pollutants affect living things, and strategies used to treat and prevent contaminated sediments.

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What types of pollutants are found in contaminated sediments? What are the sources of contaminants?
What is government doing to protect sediment quality? What laws address sediment quality issues?
Species Affected
Contaminated sediments can be lethal to organisms, such as crustaceans and insect larvae, and species up the food chain.
Communities should select the appropriate sediment management option on a case-by-case basis.
How to Locate
EPA's first survey report to Congress in 1998 showed that there is contaminated sediment in all regions and every state.
What can private citizens and individual households do to prevent sediment contamination? What resources are available?

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