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50 Percent of H2O Pollution from Homes

Preliminary results of a study suggest that current models may underestimate the amount of pollution contributed by homes by up to 50 percent. That's because past estimates focused on rain-based runoff during the wet season.
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What may have started out as alarming news could easily be a profit center opportunity for landscape contractors and landscape architects in the near future. Scientists are reporting that the typical house in California -- and probably elsewhere in the country -- is an alarming and probably underestimated source of water pollution, according to a new study reported today at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.


"Use of pesticides increases noticeably during the dry season due to gardening, and our data contains greater resolution than previous studies," researchers say.


In the study, Lorence Oki, Darren Haver and colleagues explain that runoff results from rainfall and watering of lawns and gardens, which winds up in municipal storm drains. The runoff washes fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants into storm drains, and they eventually appear in rivers, lakes and other bodies of water.

“Results from our sampling and monitoring study revealed high detection frequencies of pollutants such as pesticides and pathogen indicators at all sites,” Oki says of their study of eight residential areas in Sacramento and Orange County in California.

Pollutants detected in outdoor runoff included ant-control pesticide products. Previous surveys have shown that the majority of pesticides purchased by homeowners are used to control ants. To encourage pollutant reduction, the researchers initiated community outreach programs centered on improving both irrigation control and pest management. But redesigning residential and/or commercial sites to keep water on the site and capture graywater for reuse as irrigation may be an even better cure.

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May 19, 2019, 8:19 am PDT

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