Keeping the streets clean is crucial for the environment and humanity. Whether utilizing traditional brooms or advanced power sweepers, the main objective remains unchanged — to enhance road safety, cleanliness and public health. Discover the six advantages of street sweeping that extend beyond mere aesthetics.
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The Purpose of Street Sweeping
One of the primary purposes is to enhance the overall cleanliness of neighbourhoods and urban areas. When streets are well-maintained, it reflects the community’s desire for a safer environment and higher living standards. However, the purpose of street sweeping goes beyond its visual benefits.
People and cars pass by roadways daily. Foot traffic, vehicle activity and dirt accumulation pose risks to the walkways, roads, the environment, and your health. Street sweeping is essential to the planet because removing litter, sediment, industrial emission particle deposition and other substances on roadways brings a host of advantages.
Why Street Sweeping Is Valuable: 6 Environmental Benefits
When streets are unclean for a long time, a buildup of harmful materials can negatively impact the local area and its inhabitants. Here are some of the numerous environmental benefits of street sweeping.
- Reduces Wildlife Damage
Drivers in the U.S. had an estimated 1.8 million animal insurance claims between July 2022 and June 2023, with deer as the top animal struck. Animals sometimes walk out onto roadways because of food waste.
Regular street sweeping reduces the likelihood of wildlife and pets eating discarded items on the road, and helps decrease the chances of undesirable animal infestations in the area. Additionally, it can help protect animals from hazardous bacteria or sickness when they consume or sniff trash.
- Supports Health of the Environment and Public
Street sweeping is a preventive measure against road accidents caused by litter and debris. It keeps drivers, bikers and pedestrians safe as they traverse the streets.
Trash can leave people vulnerable to sliding, skidding and colliding with other vehicles, which can lead to gas and oil leakage that harms plants, wildlife, and people in the area. Major spills due to collisions can soak into the ground and weaken the soil. Regular street sweeping helps prevent this chain of negative implications for people and the environment.
- Protects Stormwater Quality
Aside from litter, harmful pollutants can fill the streets. Common materials like soil, sand and sediment from the weathering of concrete, asphalt, and bricks can adversely affect stormwater quality. Here are some common harmful pollutants:
- Organics: Phthalates, pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are vehicular byproducts that can harm humans and wildlife when they mix with stormwater.
- Nutrients: Leaves contain phosphorous — a nutrient that encourages microorganism growth. They can carry over into bodies of water when they hit the ground. This can lead to algae formation, which breeds toxins that harm fish and people who come in contact with compromised water, whether through drinking, swimming or consuming contaminated fish products.
- Chloride: Sweeping before winter ends removes residual road salt and lessens chloride content in those areas. Since chloride is a pollutant, disposing of this clutter might breed concerns elsewhere.
- Pathogens: Harmful bacteria can multiply in stormwater runoff, especially in warmer months. Street gutters are common sources of E. coli contamination because of high moisture levels.
- Particulate matter (PM): This pollutant is a byproduct of industrial emissions, traffic, aerosols, pollen and soil erosion. Stormwater with PM can elevate health risks for individuals who come into contact with it.
- Improves Air Quality
Dust significantly contributes to air pollution. It carries environmental and health perils, but implementing effective street sweeping systems can help combat dirt accumulation in the air.
It can also decrease the amount of dangerous hazardous particles, which are more detrimental to at-risk groups like older adults and people with respiratory problems. When dust or bacteria is inhaled, it can trigger illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia.
- Enhances Stormwater Management
Road sweeping reduces the quantity of litter entering stormwater systems. When materials enter the waterways, they can clog up the drains and result in flooding. Since stormwater eventually enters streams, oceans and rivers, polluted water can damage marine life. Regular pavement cleaning helps prevent pollutants from reaching these bodies of water and helps promote a healthier environment for all.
- Preserves Pavements
During the warmer months, asphalt expands and contracts, causing potholes and cracks. A regular sweeping schedule helps remove wearing debris that can aggravate these issues. It helps extend the life of pavements and can save the community on expensive repairs.
Likewise, debris such as loose gravel, sand, leaves and litter can create harmful conditions for drivers and pedestrians. Eliminating these obstructions minimizes the risk of accidents, slips and falls.
The Bottom Line
While street sweeping may appear to be only for aesthetics, its environmental benefits should be acknowledged. Keeping the roads clean is a shared responsibility — as a civilian, remember to do your part in enhancing the safety of the environment and its inhabitants.
About the Author
Jack Shaw is the senior writer for Modded, a men’s lifestyle publication. An avid outdoorsman and lover of nature, he’ll often find himself taking retreats out to explore his environment and encourages others to do the same. His writings have been featured on sites such as Duluth Pack, Tiny Buddha and more.