Note: This information is provided for reference purposes only. Although the information provided here was accurate and current when first created, it is now outdated.
B. Construction Site Chemical Control
Many potential pollutants other than sediment are associated with construction activities. These pollutants include pesticides (insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and rodenticides); fertilizers used for vegetative stabilization; petrochemicals (oils, gasoline, and asphalt degreasers); construction chemicals such as concrete products, sealers, and paints; wash water associated with these products; paper; wood; garbage; and sanitary wastes (Washington State Department of Ecology, 1991).
The variety of pollutants present and the severity of their effects are dependent on a number of factors:
a. PesticidesInsecticides, rodenticides, and herbicides are used on construction sites to provide safe and healthy conditions, reduce maintenance and fire hazards, and curb weeds and woody plants. Rodenticides are also used to control rodents attracted to construction sites. Common insecticides employed include synthetic, relatively water-insoluble chlorinated hydrocarbons, organophosphates, carbamates, and pyrethrins.
b. Petroleum ProductsPetroleum products used during construction include fuels and lubricants for vehicles, for power tools, and for general equipment maintenance. Specific petroleum pollutants include gasoline, diesel oil, kerosene, lubricating oils, and grease. Asphalt paving also can be particularly harmful since it releases various oils for a considerable time period after application. Asphalt overloads might be dumped and covered without inspection. However, many of these pollutants adhere to soil particles and other surfaces and can therefore be more easily controlled.
c. NutrientsFertilizers are used on construction sites when revegetating graded or disturbed areas. Fertilizers contain nitrogen and phosphorus, which in large doses can adversely affect surface waters, causing eutrophication.
d. Solid WastesSolid wastes on construction sites are generated from trees and shrubs removed during land clearing and structure installation. Other wastes include wood and paper from packaging and building materials, scrap metals, sanitary wastes, rubber, plastic and glass, and masonry and asphalt products. Food containers, cigarette packages, leftover food, and aluminum foil also contribute solid wastes to the construction site.
e. Construction ChemicalsChemical pollutants, such as paints, acids for cleaning masonry surfaces, cleaning solvents, asphalt products, soil additives used for stabilization, and concrete-curing compounds, may also be used on construction sites and carried in runoff.
f. Other PollutantsOther pollutants, such as wash water from concrete mixers, acid and alkaline solutions from exposed soil or rock, and alkaline-forming natural elements, may also be present and contribute to nonpoint source pollution.
Revegetation of disturbed areas may require the use of fertilizers and pesticides, which, if not applied properly, may become nonpoint source pollutants. Many pesticides are restricted by Federal and/or State regulations.
Hydroseeding operations, in which seed, fertilizers, and lime are applied to the ground surface in a one-step operation, are more conducive to nutrient pollution than are the conventional seedbed-preparation operations, in which fertilizers and lime are tilled into the soil. Use of fertilizers containing little or no phosphorus may be required by local authorities if the development is near sensitive waterbodies. The addition of lime can also affect the pH of sensitive waters, making them more alkaline.
Improper fueling and servicing of vehicles can lead to significant quantities of petroleum products being dumped onto the ground. These pollutants can then be washed off site in urban runoff, even when proper erosion and sediment controls are in place. Pollutants carried in solution in runoff water, or fixed with sediment crystalline structures, may not be adequately controlled by erosion and sediment control practices (Washington Department of Ecology, 1991). Oils, waxes, and water-insoluble pesticides can form surface films on water and solid particles. Oil films can also concentrate water-soluble insecticides. These pollutants can be nearly impossible to control once present in runoff other than by the use of very costly water-treatment facilities (Washington Department of Ecology, 1991).
After spill prevention, one of the best methods to control petroleum pollutants is to retain sediments containing oil on the construction site through use of erosion and sediment control practices. Improved maintenance and safe storage facilities will reduce the chance of contaminating a construction site. One of the greatest concerns related to use of petroleum products is the method for waste disposal. The dumping of petroleum product wastes into sewers and other drainage channels is illegal and could result in fines or job shutdown.
The primary control method for solid wastes is to provide adequate disposal facilities. Erosion and sediment control structures usually capture much of the solid waste from construction sites. Periodic removal of litter from these structures will reduce solid waste accumulations. Collected solid waste should be removed and disposed of at authorized disposal areas.
Improperly stored construction materials, such as pressure-treated lumber or solvents, may lead to leaching of toxics to surface water and ground water. Disposal of construction chemicals should follow all applicable State and local laws that may require disposal by a licensed waste management firm.
This management measure was selected because (1) construction activities have the potential to contribute to increased loadings of toxic substances and nutrients to waterbodies; (2) various States and local governments regulate the control of chemicals on construction sites through spill prevention plans, erosion and sediment control plans, or other administrative devices; (3) the practices described are commonly used and presented in a number of best management practice handbooks and guidance manuals for construction sites; and (4) the practices selected are the most economical and effective.
Chapter 1, the following practices are described for illustrative purposes only. State programs need not require implementation of these practices. However, as a practical matter, EPA anticipates that the management measure set forth above generally will be implemented by applying one or more management practices appropriate to the source, location, and climate. The practices set forth below have been found by EPA to be representative of the types of practices that can be applied successfully to achieve the management measure described above.
Pesticide storage areas on construction sites should be protected from the elements. Warning signs should be placed in areas recently sprayed or treated. Persons mixing and applying these chemicals should wear suitable protective clothing, in accordance with the law.
Application rates should conform to registered label directions. Disposal of excess pesticides and pesticide-related wastes should conform to registered label directions for the disposal and storage of pesticides and pesticide containers set forth in applicable Federal, State, and local regulations that govern their usage, handling, storage, and disposal. Pesticides and herbicides should be used only in conjunction with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) (see Chapter 2). Pesticides should be the tool of last resort; methods that are the least disruptive to the environment and human health should be used first.
Pesticides should be disposed of through either a licensed waste management firm or a treatment, storage, and disposal (TSD) facility. Containers should be triple-rinsed before disposal, and rinse waters should be reused as product.
Other practices include setting aside a locked storage area, tightly closing lids, storing in a cool, dry place, checking containers periodically for leaks or deterioration, maintaining a list of products in storage, using plastic sheeting to line the storage area, and notifying neighboring property owners prior to spraying.
When storing petroleum products, follow these guidelines:
Proper maintenance of equipment and installation of proper stream crossings will further reduce pollution of water by these sources. Stream crossings should be minimized through proper planning of access roads. Refer to Chapter 3 for additional information on stream crossings.
Post spill procedure information and have persons trained in spill handling on site or on call at all times. Materials for cleaning up spills should be kept on site and easily available. Spills should be cleaned up immediately and the contaminated material properly disposed of. Spill control plan components should include:
Thinners or solvents should not be discharged into sanitary or storm sewer systems when cleaning machinery. Use alternative methods for cleaning larger equipment parts, such as high-pressure, high-temperature water washes, or steam cleaning. Equipment-washing detergents can be used, and wash water may be discharged into sanitary sewers if solids are removed from the solution first. (This practice should be verified with the local sewer authority.) Small parts can be cleaned with degreasing solvents, which can then be reused or recycled. Do not discharge any solvents into sewers.
Washout from concrete trucks should be disposed of into:
Properly time applications, and work fertilizers and liming materials into the soil to depths of 4 to 6 inches. Using soil tests to determine specific nutrient needs at the site can greatly decrease the amount of nutrients applied.
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