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What is Fugitive Dust?

Most property owners assume picking up trash translates to a clean parking area, but removing litter in plain sight is only part of the story.  Beneath visible debris, you’ll find dirt, road salt, and brake dust that wears out flooring and increases cleaning costs.  Keeping the inside of buildings clean is a good reason to sweep outside paved areas, but there is an equally important environmental consideration:  fugitive dust.  Microscopic particles of dried oil residue, pesticides / herbicides, and nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen are made airborne by breezes and the motion of passing cars, polluting our air and water.


Our Partnership with 1-800-SWEEPER has provided us with this informative video that explains exactly why fugitive dust should be a key consideration to anyone managing paved surfaces. At Clean Sweep, we can help. Contact us today! 

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Only Rain

Water is one of our most important natural resources and protecting that resource should be a top priority for business and individuals. There are many things that most people are aware of that impact water quality, however, some of the things that affect it the most go unnoticed. Street sweeping is, in fact, one of the best things cities and business owners can invest in for proper stormwater management and few people thinking of it this way. Consider the impact on water quality with these environmental results of street sweeping.

Stormwater Management

In one California city, a single year of street sweeping kept 220,000 pounds of debris out of storm drains. Different sweepers make a difference on how much is picked up. In this case, the Tymco 500x is used and is especially good at capturing miniscule particles. All sweepers do apart to prevent water and air pollution and to keep storm drains from getting backed up.

Wildlife Protection

Often roadside debris is not limited to normal or natural things like leaves and dirt. Unfortunately, humans add a particularly bad brand of garbage by tossing food and food containers on the roadside. This material often attracts animals out of their natural environment and into roadways where they are injured or killed.  Also, much of this food just isn’t healthy for animals. There are also containers and plastic pieces that can present choking hazards or be tangled around an animal’s body, wing, or leg.

Wetland Impact and Decreased Property Value

Runoff with high amounts of debris also damages wetlands leading to an unlivable environment for plant and animal life. Additionally, this ruins the aesthetics of these natural areas and can even bring down the value of surrounding properties.

Removal of Metal

Metal particles are a common part of the roadside debris that comes from vehicles and trash. These metals are detrimental to water life and other animals and even create air pollution by bonding to larger pieces. Larger metal pieces and other objects like rocks can also cause damage to cars, mostly by scraping the finish or hitting the underside.

Street sweeping is an often overlooked yet very important part of keeping our roads, waterways and air clean, but this nearly silent service has great impact. Stay on top of your sweeping needs with CLEAN SWEEP and do your part to keep your city clean and safe with our many local contractors available 24/7.


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Sweeping and SWPPP 

All construction sites require a Stormwater Pollution Protection Plan. Power Sweeping is one of the most effective ways to mitigate tracked out and eroded soils. Keeping waterways clean and limiting airborne dust disturbed during construction may not initially seem like an area of attention for companies known for maintaining parking lots and sweeping municipal streets. Yet, many consider street sweeping to be the final line of defense keeping eroding and tracked soil and sediment off roads and out of storm water drainage systems. Our power broom sweeping and vacuum sweeping expertise is identified as one of the Best Management Practices (BMPs) for builders to carry out in connection with a qualified sediment and erosion control plan.

Water runoff that carries eroded silt,  sand, and soil from construction sites can overtax storm sewer systems as well as harm rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. The Federal EPA has developed rules to task home builders and other construction companies with developing and then maintaining a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) that recognizes and addresses erosion control.

A SWPPP however is more than just a sediment and erosion control plan. The SWPPP document describes all of the construction site operator’s activities to prevent stormwater contamination, control sedimentation and erosion, and comply with the requirements of the Clean Water Act. In larger construction companies, it is common to have a person on staff responsible for erosion and sediment control and stormwater management.

Although the EPA establishes a national standard definition, construction companies may come under the jurisdiction of a state, county, or even local stormwater anti-pollution regulations.

Same Approach – Different Names

Different state or regional Environmental Protection Agencies may reference a SWPPP as:

  • Construction Best Practices Plan
  • Sediment and Stormwater Plan
  • Erosion, Sediment, and Pollution Prevention Plan
  • Construction Site Best Management Practices Plan
  • Erosion Control Plan and Best Management Practices
  • Best Management Practices Plan
  • Erosion and Sediment Control Plan

Regardless of the title used in your state, these documents and associated stormwater permits required at active construction sites tend to have a number of common components. 1-800-SWEEPER’s role as our industry’s premier power sweeping service professionals is helping builders specify the most appropriate remediation for dirt tracked out of construction sites and provide the onsite expertise to keep our construction clients in compliance with these regulations.

Professional Erosion Control Certification And Continuing Education

Neither the EPA nor most individual states offer training and certification.  However, at the state level, regulations may require construction sites to have a certified individual available or even on-site at all times.

Several programs offer training and certification of individuals in erosion and sediment control. The Soil and Water Conservation Society and the International Erosion Control Association sponsor a national certification program, the Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (

As a  result of a detailed dialogue at the Sweeper Summit, 1-800-SWEEPER will soon be introducing a program that will offer our Partner companies discounted continuing education, training, and certification through StormwaterOne, a nationally recognized online training organization that specializes in storm water compliance training. Some 1-800-SWEEPER Partners are already certified and available for consultation and assistance in developing plans for construction site sweeping plans. Look for more details on our Stormwater One program in an upcoming news article and vendor partner announcement.

Helping construction companies keep dirt off the roadways and in compliance with the regulations gives all of us a cleaner environment.  If you are a construction company that requires road sweeping or storm drain vacuuming to comply with your SWPPP, contact  the knowledgeable, helpful construction sweeping vendors at 1-800-SWEEPER today!


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By Michael R. Lucht (1-800-Sweeper)   

Removing nitrogen and phosphorus from the streets protects the watershed.

In August of 2014 Toledo suffered a water crisis due to an algae bloom on Lake Erie that contaminated the water supply. Although efforts have been made to reduce the pollutants getting into the lake it is still a concern today. Nitrogen and Phosphorus are key nutrients that support the growth of algae and if they grow faster than the ecosystem can handle, the result is an algal bloom that will contribute to toxic water conditions. Nitrogen and phosphorus entering the water supply through runoff from storm water need to be reduced to avoid another crisis.

Image: 2014 Lake Erie Algae Bloom

Source: NASA

LakeErieBloomClean Water Act 

The Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) was passed in 1972 due to serious concerns about water pollution. It establishes a structure for regulating pollutants that enter the waters of the United States as well as setting quality standards for surface waters. The CWA identifies best management practices (BMP) for decreasing the pollutants with street sweeping being a recommended BPM for mitigating pollutants. 

Why Street Sweeping? 
Street sweeping is generally perceived as being performed to improve aesthetics by removing litter and gravel, etc. 

However, the not so obvious fine material that accumulates along street curbs contains metals from vehicle wear and organic pollutants including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and pesticides from vehicle fluids and vegetation. These materials are combined with yard waste, leaves, and fossil fuel, which increase the levels of phosphorus and nitrogen resulting in these chemicals flowing from the streets into the watershed if proper street sweeping is not performed. 

Many contaminates that exist in the highest concentrations are the smallest particles, known as particulate matter (PM). PM varies in size from aerosol to large grit. The EPA categorizes these particles as either coarse (PM10) or fine (PM2.5) according to the diameter of the particle. Sources of these particles include emissions from vehicles and breakdown from traffic and soil particulate. These contaminants are known to be toxic to human health and aquatic life. High levels of these organic and inorganic contaminants in storm water can also degrade the quality of the water supply. 

The only way to remove these pollutants on the streets and parking lots is through routine sweeping with vacuum or air sweepers. Many municipalities recognize the impact of storm water runoff from paved surfaces on their water supply and have implemented street sweeping programs to perform frequent sweeping, especially in areas near large bodies of water. 

Some studies have determined sweeping is not effective at reducing pollutants in storm water runoff but most of these studies relied on mechanical broom sweepers, which are generally known to be not as effective at removing fine particles. Newer technology sweepers like the vacuum, and regenerative air have been proven to be more effective at picking up debris and especially smaller PM. A recent study has shown sweeping once per month with a regenerative-air street sweeper was more effective at reducing solids and phosphorus contributions than sweeping three times per week with a mechanical or vacuum sweeper.1

Cost Effectiveness of Street Sweeping 
As a pollution control practice, street sweeping has been shown to be quite cost-effective. Other BMP such as detention ponds or filtering devices cost more per pound then what a street sweeper can effectively remove. Controlling the pollutants at street level is more efficient than allowing materials to travel into the catch basins and storm sewer system.  Treating contaminated storm water overflow is expensive and it is difficult to remove all the pollutants. Removing even 30% of the metal through street sweeping would be more cost effective than installing or improving a treatment facility. The initial capital cost for a sweeper can range from $100,000 to $250,000+ but the long-term removal costs per pound of materials when compared to other methods is on the low end. Municipalities need to focus beyond just aesthetics and see street sweeping as an effort to control pollution and improve water quality.2  The following are just a few examples of cities using street cleaning as a way to protect their water systems.

Federal Mandates to Chesapeake Bay 
Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and due to increases in pollutants in the watershed, the EPA has mandated the six states surrounding it to comply with efforts to decrease excessive nitrogen and phosphorous sediment. Street sweeping is listed as an action to help decrease these nutrients given the high level of toxic contaminants found in street solids and street sweeper wastes.3

US Geological Survey in Cambridge, Massachusetts 
The city was concerned about protecting the Lower Charles River and wanted to determine the amount of trace elements in the street cleaning spoils and the most productive street cleaning methods to reduce the phosphorus levels. The study showed street sweeping was 81% efficient at removing phosphorus.4

Seattle Increases Street Sweeping Budget 
In 2016 Seattle increased its street sweeping budget from $1 million to $1.8 million due to its location on Puget Sound as an effort to decrease storm water pollutants. Due to the abundant rainfall and multiple waterways that flow into Puget Sound, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) collected data that showed street sweeping was an effective method to help keep pollutants out of storm water. The team also realized it is more cost effective to remove the pollutants at street level by street sweeping then by building end-of-the-pipe infrastructure.  The city has data to show street sweeping cost 4 to 10 times less than threatening polluted water with conventional storm water treatment. When dollars spent are compared to the pounds of pollutants removed by the sweepers, the cost per pound is about $4.80. The cost effectiveness of other methods to capture end-of-the-pipe pollution like ponds and swales was figured to be between $8.20-$53 per pound.5

Municipalities and Routine Sweeping 
Street sweeping may have initially begun for aesthetic purposes, but environmental concerns and government regulations have made water quality the most important reason for street sweeping. Regular sweeping by municipalities will keep harmful pollutants off the streets and prevent them from contaminating the watershed. 

An effective watershed management program must include a thoughtful street sweeping schedule. Routine scheduled street sweeping, with the proper equipment, is a proven and cost effective way to preserve the water supply we rely on for life.

About the author: Michael R. Lucht is President of Progressive Sweeping Contractors, Inc. Headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, Mike sees the immediate need for careful clean up of pollutants. 

1 Sorenson, J.R., 2013, Potential reductions of street solids and phosphorus in urban watersheds from street cleaning, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2009–11: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5292, 66 p., plus appendix 1 on a CD-ROM in pocket. (Also available at

2 “Seattle Ups Street Sweeping to Address Stormwater Pollution.” Pavement Maintenance, 14 June 2016, Accessed September 5 2018. 

3 Donner, Sebastian, et al. “Recommendations for the Expert Panel to Define Removal Rates for Street and Storm Drain Cleaning Practices.” 18 September 2015

4 Schilling, J.G. 2005. Street Sweeping – Report No. 1, State of the Practice. Prepared for Ramsey- Washington Metro Watershed District ( North St. Paul, Minnesota. June 2005. 

5 Sorenson, J.R., 2013, Potential reductions of street solids and phosphorus in urban watersheds from street cleaning, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2009–11: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5292, 66 p., plus appendix 1 on a CD-ROM in pocket. (Also available at

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