TSS or Total Suspended Solids

Chemical symbol/abbreviations:

TSS, suspended solids

Form commonly found in stormwater:

Rock and soil fragments, dirt and debris from roads and vehicles.

Related constituents:

Turbidity – a measure of the optical diffraction imparted by solids in the water, with no direct relationship between TSS and turbidity units.

Solubility in water:

Suspended solids are insoluble in water and will settle out of suspension with enough time.

Adverse human impacts:

High TSS levels are often associated with higher levels of disease-causing microorganisms such as viruses, parasites and some bacteria, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and associated headaches.[i] Suspended solids can also make streams less aesthetically enjoyable.

Adverse impacts on the environment:

Suspended solids reduce visibility and absorb light, which can increase stream temperatures and reduce photosynthesis.[ii]
Impeding aquatic plant photosynthesis reduces the amount of food, habitat and dissolved oxygen available for other species.[iii]
Fine particles may also clog and abrade fish and insect gills and tissue and interfere with egg and larval development.[iv]
Pollutants such as pesticides and PCBs adhere to the surfaces of TSS and can be transported into aquatic environments in this fashion.[v]

Stormwater Treatment to Remove TSS

TSS (Total Suspended Solids) in Stormwater FAQs

What are total suspended solids (TSS)?2019-07-23T14:17:56+00:00

Total suspended solids (TSS) describe particulates of varied origin, including soils, metals, organic materials and debris that are suspended in a moving body of water.

Turbidity, a related pollutant, is a measure of the optical diffraction imparted by solids in the water, with no direct relationship between TSS and turbidity units. Suspended solids are insoluble in water and will settle out of suspension with enough time.

How do total suspended solids (TSS) get in to stormwater runoff?2019-07-23T16:50:18+00:00

Stormwater runoff can carry particulate debris into waterbodies creating TSS conditions. Turbulence keeps the particulates suspended in water, allowing the solids to be transported downstream.

Why should total suspended solids (TSS) be removed from industrial stormwater runoff?2019-07-23T16:50:44+00:00

TSS should be removed from stormwater because the effects of high TSS levels in water ingested by humans often mean higher levels of disease-causing microorganisms such as viruses, parasites and some bacteria, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and associated headaches.[i]

TSS can also make water bodies in the environment less aesthetically enjoyable and can have negative impacts on plants and wildlife. TSS reduce visibility and absorb light, which can increase stream temperatures and reduce photosynthesis.[ii] Resulting negative impacts of TSS on plant and wildlife include:

  • interference with aquatic plant photosynthesis, reducing the amount of food, habitat and dissolved oxygen available for other species;[iii]
  • fine particles clogging and abrading fish and insect gills and tissue and interference with egg and larval development;[iv] and
  • pollutants such as pesticides and PCBs adhering to the surfaces of TSS and being transported through stormwater runoff into aquatic environments.[v]
How are TSS (total suspended solids) removed from industrial stormwater runoff?2019-07-23T16:50:55+00:00

TSS and other settleable pollutants such as settleable solids, metals, floatables and trash can be removed by gravity separation. Stormwater flows through a chambered gravity separator gradually settling finer and finer particles. Oil and grease are skimmed from the surface and retained during this process. Clara is a highly effective gravity separator for the removal of oil and grease, settleable solids, metals, floatables and trash. If a higher level of TSS removal is needed, Clara can operate upstream of the Aquip passive media filter. Find out more about the Clara gravity separator and the Aquip passive media filter.

U.S. EPA water quality criteria:

None. EPA recommends water quality criteria for many of the constituents included in TSS[vi]

Background:

Total suspended solids (TSS) describe particulates of varied origin, including soils, metals, organic materials and debris that are suspended in a moving body of water. Turbulence keeps the particulates suspended in water allowing the solids to be transported downstream.
Total suspended solids and turbidity are distinct measurements that provide similar assessment of the water quality. TSS is a measure of the mass of solids found in a volume of water that can be filtered by a 1.5 um glass fiber filter.  Turbidity is a measure of the optical diffraction imparted by solids the water. Both can be used to assess the impact of solids on a water body.[vii]

 

The largest amounts of solids are generated from construction activities, agriculture, unpaved surfaces, and waste management. However, solids develop from less evident sources such as highways, parking lots, and air emissions.[viii] Wind and rain act as the predominant mechanism transporting solids into waterways.

Appendices

[i] U.S. EPA, List of Contaminants and Their MCLs, http://www.epa.gov/safewater/contaminants/index.html (last visited July 26, 2019).

[ii] Lake Superior Streams, Turbidity and TSS, http://www.lakesuperiorstreams.org/understanding/param_turbidity.html (last visited July 26, 2019).

The Clara® gravity separator is often used as pretreatment to the Aquip for removal of suspended solids. For industries with a heavy solids load, Clara is often the product of choice, especially if there are no other pollutants that require more fine particulate filtering or polishing.

The Aquip® industrial stormwater filtration system uses an innovative enhanced media filtration process to effectively remove soluble and insoluble aluminum and other metals as well as oils, suspended solids, organics and nutrients from industrial stormwater runoff.

The Purus® Stormwater Polishing System provides the most advanced level of stormwater treatment, and is designed for challenging stormwater conditions or targeted polluant removal.

2019-07-26T15:56:22+00:00