In the 1840’s, the first industrial city had developed in Manchester, England. While this was a great development in many ways, it did not create a very healthful environment for inhabitants. This advancement in technology and the resulting pollution led to the first patent for a street sweeping machine being filed by C.S. Bishop. Technology has improved upon the original, and today these giant machines are mounted on the bodies of trucks, and can not only sweep, but vacuum the debris away as well. There are a number of benefits to employing street sweepers, but here are four of the most important.
- Road Safety: Debris that accumulates in the gutters and the shoulders of the road presents a significant hazard to passing motorists as well as cyclists and pedestrians. A car that is swerving around trash is a great danger, and driving over substances that could then cause skidding is no better. Cyclists are not able to do anything but navigate around any obstructions, veering at times into lanes of traffic.
- Wildlife Preservation: Thinking of the debris swept away by power sweeping services likely brings to mind many images of the common trash humans leave behind. The real danger to the wildlife is barely visible, or even invisible, to the naked eye. Small metal particles and microscopic pollutants are harmful to animals that inadvertantly consume them when these things stick to plant matter and bond with larger particulates.
- Manage Water Run-Off: Gutters and drains on roadsides are obviously not just decoration, they serve a purpose. If power sweeping services do not perform trash clean up, these drains may be blocked and result in localized flooding.
- Water Quality: Those miniscule pollutants that can harm surrounding wildlife are also not advisable for human consumption. Water runoff that picks up the microscopic trash, which includes pesticides and heavy metals, then carries it into a city’s water supply. There is no doubt that this has a negative effect, as the National Water Quality Inventory reports that runoff from urban areas is the largest source of water quality impairment in the estuaries they surveyed.