4 Common Pollutants in Stormwater Runoff

Posted On: August 08, 2023

Traffic in the heavy rain.The DC Metro Area is no stranger to stormwater runoff challenges. When rainwater flows over our urban landscapes, it picks up various pollutants along the way, eventually entering our waterways and causing environmental concerns.

Here are 4 of the most common pollutants found in stormwater runoff to give you an understanding of why they’re so prevalent and the hazards they pose.


Chemicals, from fertilizers to automotive fluids, are abundant in urban landscapes. They can seep into the ground or get washed away during heavy rainfall.

Once they enter the water system, these chemicals can have devastating effects on aquatic life. Prolonged exposure can harm their reproductive systems, growth, and survival rates. For humans, contaminated water can lead to many health issues when ingested directly or indirectly.

Food Waste

It might surprise many, but yes, those fast-food wrappers, discarded Styrofoam cups, and even cooking oil make their way into our water systems. When not disposed of correctly, they litter our streets, eventually getting swept into waterways.

Besides being unsightly, these pollutants degrade slowly, releasing toxic substances over time. They also clog water passages, flooding and damaging marine ecosystems.

Cigarette Butts

An often overlooked but significant source of stormwater pollution, cigarette butts are more than just an eyesore. Littered butts contain harmful chemicals like nicotine, lead, and arsenic.

When these chemicals leach into our water systems, they threaten aquatic life and can even find their way into our drinking water.

Human & Animal Waste

Animal droppings and even human waste are common pollutants in urban stormwater runoff. When rain washes these contaminants into local streams and rivers, they introduce harmful bacteria and pathogens. This can lead to health risks for both humans and marine life, contaminating drinking water sources and disrupting aquatic ecosystems.

Schedule With iSTORMWATER Today

The fight against stormwater runoff pollution is a collective responsibility. By understanding these pollutants, we can take steps in our daily lives and stormwater maintenance to reduce our contribution. For businesses in the DMV area, it’s crucial to have a reliable partner like iSTORMWATER, offering professional stormwater runoff management and preventative maintenance.

Safeguard your commercial property and protect our water systems. Call iSTORMWATER at (443) 699-2828 to get professional advice on stormwater management.


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Incredible stormwater management service. The owner John consulted on a property I manage and ended up saving us thousands of dollars in environmental fees from the government. Now, our property is compliant with the EPA and we have a great partner to keep us maintained on stormwater regulations over time.

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