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How to Ensure Environment-Friendly Street Cleaning & Washing

Modern pressure washing and street cleaning should be made as environmentally green as possible. Certain practical tools and good procedures will help achieve this goal.

Washing and Cleaning Tools Should Protect the Environment

Pressure washing equipment has evolved. Entirely self-contained mobile units are now used to ride herd on the liquids being applied and the substances that are being washed away. Controls exist in models that range from those hand-held to small ride-on versions, equipment pulled by trailers, and both small and large truck-mounted models.

1. Pressure Washers

  • There are high pressure cleaning systems with controlled mixes of water and carefully formulated cleaning agents that allow optimum cleaning with reduced water use and reduced environmental exposure to foreign chemicals.
  • There are reclamation systems that collect the used water and cleaning agents and allow filtering and reuse of the cleaning solutions to further reduce water waste and unwanted environmental exposures. With this system, storm drains and runoffs are kept free of both cleaning solutions and other pollutants.
  • Some units have remote cleaning and vacuum heads for reaching areas on sidewalks, patios, and parking lots that are located too far from areas that can be reached by a vehicle.
  • The better units also heat the cleaning solutions. A heated cleansing mixture is usually far more

effective and further diminishes water and cleanser use.

2. Street Sweepers

• Newer technology provides regenerative air cleaning to restore the air to safe particulate levels before returning it to the environment. This allows:

– Reduction of dirt and pollutants spilled out into the environment

– Unwanted dust buildup on vehicles, buildings, and other local surfaces

– An upgrade in environmental protection

• In both motorized sweepers and mobile pressure washer trucks, the green philosophy extends as well to the engines that drive them. Efficiency of fuel use and environmental compatibility are part of the package. There are sweeper models where the operator walks behind the sweeper, small models that can be ridden, and large, street sweeping units that can be driven.

Current Pressure Washing Cleansers

All legally applied cleansers must be EPA approved. Those approved have been tested and rated for their compliance to governmental standards.

Pressure Washing Runoff Abatement Measures are Required

As well as equipment that can collect and re-use the cleaning solutions, the scale of operation may require further practical steps to divert waste from entering drains, sewers, and waterways.  Some of the special tools needed include the following:

  • storm drain covers/mats to temporarily prevent runoff until it can be vacuumed up or other disposal arranged
  • movable berms to divert flow from drains and runoff channels
  • oil-only socks or booms to be placed in areas for control of petroleum-based waste and also solid particles
  • bio-bags or bark-bags to be placed at the head of sewer and storm drain openings or other such areas to catch refuse, solids, moss, and botanical wastes during cleanup operations (not suitable for fine and liquid pollutants)
  • inflatable pipe plugs that allow temporary blocking of drain pipes, allowing cleanup operations to go on without concern that liquids will escape into the environment
  • absorbents and absorbent pads that can be used for spot cleanups of spills

Some specialized operations may improve a pressure washing service so that it is more environmentally friendly.  It can also be improved by including such items as special sumps, collection basins, and diversion systems that re-route runoff to recycling areas, filtering equipment, or collection tanks.

A competent crew should be conversant with, equipped for, and ready to apply, any and all of the these environment-friendly services to your job.

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