Turbidity

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Definition - What does Turbidity mean?

Turbidity is the haziness or cloudiness of fluids as a result of separate particles like dissolved solids or total dissolved solids (TSD). These particles are not visible with the naked eye.

Measuring the degree of turbidity is essential in testing the quality of water. Turbidity can also be applicable in glass and plastic production. Higher levels of turbidity increase the likelihood of corrosion.

Corrosionpedia explains Turbidity

High levels of turbidity in open water are typically caused by growth of microorganisms such as phytoplankton. Other activities that cause disruption on land can result in elevated sediments passing through bodies of water in rain storms. These activities may include any of the following:

  • Agriculture
  • Mining
  • Construction

These industries can produce high turbidity levels, which may lead to high erosion rates as well. Other causes of high turbidity include water discharge and urban runoff.

When there is high turbidity, suspended particles absorb more heat, making the water warmer with lower oxygen concentration. Most organisms do not survive in warm water. Suspended particles also disperse the light, reducing photosynthesis that can promote the concentration of oxygen. As a result, suspended particles settle underneath. These suspended particles can serve as the attachment for heavy metals, pesticides and other toxic compounds.

It is vital to eliminate turbidity in waters for effective disinfection and to make it safe for drinking. This requires extra cost for industrial treatments, but is necessary.

To measure turbidity, industries make use of an instrument known as a turbimeter or nephlometer. This device measures the light intensity scattered at a 90-degree angle as light beams pass through the samples. Measurement of turbidity reveals an estimate of the total suspended solid (TSS), which is an essential parameter to help lessen toxicity and corrosion or damage in waters.

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