When you hear the soft shushing noise of the sweeper trucks going down the street, environmental pollution is probably far from your mind. While this public service has been around since the 19th century, street sweeping services provide a form of protection against a very 21st century problem: runoff pollution. The benefits of a regular street sweeping service have an effect on more than simple ascetics then, but a larger effect on the environment as well.
Street Sweeper Trucks: Keeping Your City Streets Clean Since 1849.
It might surprise some, but the road sweeping services of today have their beginnings in 1849, when C.S. Bishop first patented his idea for a horse-drawn street sweeping service. However, the first self-propelled sweeper truck wasn’t approved for patent until 1896. The design was submitted by the African American inventor Charles B. Brooks. The modern sweeper is mounted on a truck body, but operates similar to a vacuum in discarding debris from the street.
Someone Needs to Do It: How Street Sweeping Services Clean Up.
Just as people judge another by their appearance, so do they also judge the professionalism of an area by its streets. Many people consider the exterior cleanliness of the parking areas and sidewalks just as important as the interior areas in terms of cleanliness. Urban areas, or those that are highly populated, are good candidates for sweeping services. With so many pedestrians in one place, the area has the potential to become extraordinarily cluttered if the cleaning and maintenance are not seen to on a regular basis. This means removing stray paper, excess leaves, and other trash that has a tendency to build up from the gutters.
Pollution: How Sweeper Trucks Are Cleaning Up Contaminants.
The pollution that street sweepers cleanup is known as runoff pollution. This is formed when the water runs into the gutters and carries with it the pesticides and heavy metals that have accumulated in the street. The runoff water collects especially after a heavy storm or when the snow has melted. The contaminants build up over time. When streets are properly cleaned on a regular schedule, it has been found that several tons of debris removal results in far less pollutants in the runoff water.
An area not often considered but that is just as important to consider with street sweeping services is parking lot sweeping. Consider how a parking lot is used: the likelihood of an oil drip, extra exhaust buildup, and just regular trash accumulating is high. When thinking about the role our public spaces may play in environmental decline, we cannot afford to forget the places we park our vehicles.
The role of the street sweeper is not simply about beautifying an area, although that is a beneficial effect. The role of sweeping our city streets is one that has a larger effect on the environment. Having a consistent street sweeping program in place becomes not a question of, “Is it worth the money?” but a question of environmental conscientiousness.