Pollutant Concentration in Highway Runoff

In addition to sediment, runoff from roadways can contain heavy metals, oxygen demanding material, and nutrients. There is a strong relationship between the volume of traffic carried on a roadway and the event mean concentration of pollutants in runoff as shown in the table below.

Pollutant Concentration in Highway Runoff (source: Driscoll et al. 1990, Federal Highway Administration)

Pollutant EMC* in runoff, <30,000 vehicles per day (mg/l) EMC* in runoff, >30,000 vehicles per day (mg/l)
Total suspended solids 41 142
Volatile suspended solids 12 39
Total organic carbon 8 25
Chemical oxygen demand 49 114
Nitrite and nitrate 0.46 0.76
Total Kjeldahl N 0.87 1.83
Phosphorus 0.16 0.40
Copper 0.022 0.054
Lead 0.080 0.400
Zinc 0.080 0.329

*EMC is event mean concentration

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