Relating vehicle generated pollutants to urban stormwater quality

Gunawardena, Janaka (2012) Relating vehicle generated pollutants to urban stormwater quality. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Rapid urbanisation and resulting continuous increase in traffic has been recognised as key factors in the contribution of increased pollutant loads to urban stormwater and in turn to receiving waters. Urbanisation primarily increases anthropogenic activities and the percentage of impervious surfaces in urban areas. These processes are collectively responsible for urban stormwater pollution. In this regard, urban traffic and land use related activities have been recognised as the primary pollutant sources. This is primarily due to the generation of a range of key pollutants such as solids, heavy metals and PAHs.

Appropriate treatment system design is the most viable approach to mitigate stormwater pollution. However, limited understanding of the pollutant process and transport pathways constrains effective treatment design. This highlights necessity for the detailed understanding of traffic and other land use related pollutants processes and pathways in relation to urban stormwater pollution.

This study has created new knowledge in relation to pollutant processes and transport pathways encompassing atmospheric pollutants, atmospheric deposition and build-up on ground surfaces of traffic generated key pollutants. The research study was primarily based on in-depth experimental investigations. This thesis describes the extensive knowledge created relating to the processes of atmospheric pollutant build-up, atmospheric deposition and road surface build-up and establishing their relationships as a chain of processes.

The analysis of atmospheric deposition revealed that both traffic and land use related sources contribute total suspended particulate matter (TSP) to the atmosphere. Traffic sources become dominant during weekdays whereas land use related sources become dominant during weekends due to the reduction in traffic sources. The analysis further concluded that atmospheric TSP, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals (HMs) concentrations are highly influenced by total average daily heavy duty traffic, traffic congestion and the fraction of commercial and industrial land uses. A set of mathematical equation were developed to predict TSP, PAHs and HMs concentrations in the atmosphere based on the influential traffic and land use related parameters.

Dry deposition samples were collected for different antecedent dry days and wet deposition samples were collected immediately after rainfall events. The dry deposition was found to increase with the antecedent dry days and consisted of relatively coarser particles (greater than 1.4 ìm) when compared to wet deposition. The wet deposition showed a strong affinity to rainfall depth, but was not related to the antecedent dry period. It was also found that smaller size particles (less than 1.4 ìm) travel much longer distances from the source and deposit mainly with the wet deposition. Pollutants in wet deposition are less sensitive to the source characteristics compared to dry deposition. Atmospheric deposition of HMs is not directly influenced by land use but rather by proximity to high emission sources such as highways. Therefore, it is important to consider atmospheric deposition as a key pollutant source to urban stormwater in the vicinity of these types of sources.

Build-up was analysed for five different particle size fractions, namely, <1 ìm, 1-75 ìm, 75-150 ìm, 150-300 ìm and >300 ìm for solids, PAHs and HMs. The outcomes of the study indicated that PAHs and HMs in the <75 ìm size fraction are generated mainly by traffic related activities whereas the > 150 ìm size fraction is generated by both traffic and land use related sources. Atmospheric deposition is an important source for HMs build-up on roads, whereas the contribution of PAHs from atmospheric sources is limited.

A comprehensive approach was developed to predict traffic and other land use related pollutants in urban stormwater based on traffic and other land use characteristics. This approach primarily included the development of a set of mathematical equations to predict traffic generated pollutants by linking traffic and land use characteristics to stormwater quality through mathematical modelling. The outcomes of this research will contribute to the design of appropriate treatment systems to safeguard urban receiving water quality for future traffic growth scenarios. The „real world. application of knowledge generated was demonstrated through mathematical modelling of solids in urban stormwater, accounting for the variability in traffic and land use characteristics.

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ID Code: 53140
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Egodawatta, Prasanna, Ayoko, Godwin, & Goonetilleke, Sobana
Keywords: atmospheric deposition, heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, air sampling, stormwater quality modelling, pollutant build-up, pollutant wash-off
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 14 Aug 2012 06:05
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:46

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