Roofing as a source of nonpoint water pollution

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Sixteen wooden structures with two roofs each were installed to study runoff quality for four commonly used roofing materials (wood shingle, composition shingle, painted aluminum, and galvanized iron) at Nacogdoches, Texas. Each roof, either facing NW or SE, was 1.22 m wide x 3.66 m long with a 25.8% roof slope. Thus, there were 32 alternatively arranged roofs, consisting of four roof types x two aspects x four replicates, in the study. Runoff from the roofs was collected through galvanized gutters, downspouts, and splitters. The roof runoff was compared to rainwater collected by a wet/dry acid rain collector for the concentrations of eight water quality variables, i.e. Cu(2+), Mn(2+), Pb(2+), Zn(2+), Mg(2+), Al(3+), EC and pH. Based on 31 storms collected between October 1997 and December 1998, the results showed: (1) concentrations of pH, Cu, and Zn in rainwater already exceed the EPA freshwater quality standards even without pollutant inputs from roofs, (2) Zn and Cu, the two most serious pollutants in roof runoff, exceeded the EPA national freshwater water quality standards in virtually 100% and more than 60% of the samples, respectively, (3) pH, EC, and Zn were the only three variables significantly affected by roofing materials, (4) differences in Zn concentrations were significant among all roof types and between all roof runoff and rainwater samples, (5) although there were no differences in Cu concentrations among all roof types and between roof runoff and rainwater, all means and medians of runoff and rainwater exceeded the national water quality standards, (6) water quality from wood shingles was the worst among the roof types studied, and (7) although SE is the most frequent and NW the least frequent direction for incoming storms, only EC, Mg, Mn, and Zn in wood shingle runoff from the SE were significantly higher than those from the NW; the two aspects affected no other elements in runoff from the other three roof types. Also, Zn concentrations from new wood-shingle roofs were significantly higher than those from aged roofs of a previous study. The study demonstrated that roofs could be a serious source of nonpoint water pollution. Since Zn is the most serious water pollutant and wood shingle is the worst of the four roof types, using less compounds and materials associated with Zn along with good care and maintenance of roofs are critical in reducing Zn pollution in roof runoff.



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