In Food Industries, turbidity is often the most discussed parameters when it comes to water quality monitoring. However, the details around turbidity measurement are not always fully understood. Here’s a guide for you to get a better understanding of turbidity!

Turbidity – An Overview:

Lab turbidity measurement is the degree to which the water loses its transparency due to the presence of pollutants.

To elaborate, one of the important indicators of water quality is the amount of dispersed suspended solids. These solids, including clay, algae, and other organic matter, can hinder light transmission through water and create a characteristic known as turbidity. This, in turn, indicates changes in the environmental conditions of rivers, lakes, and streams.

For instance, high levels of suspended sediments can block light from reaching aquatic plants, thus interfering with photosynthesis. As photosynthesis reduces, the level of dissolved oxygen in the water also reduces. Moreover, highly turbid waters absorb more light, which can cause an increase in water temperature, further lowering dissolved oxygen levels. If this condition prevails, it could ultimately stress the aerobic aquatic organisms and kill fishes thus making the water unfit for using in Food Industries.

Why measure Turbidity?

According to law, establishing total loads of various pollutants daily is vital to meet water quality standards. Measuring water parameters continuously is often limited by technical and financial constraints. On the other hand, turbidity can be effective as a substitute measurement as it can be measured continuously, and it is strongly associated with nutrients, bacteria, and sediment concentrations. Here is a list of turbidity as a substitute measurement for many environmental influencers:

  • Monitor pathogens such as E.coli in water.
  • Monitor the impact of humans on natural water bodies.
  • Measuring the amount of phosphorous in water is often very difficult, but an increase in phosphorous or phosphate usually correlates to an increase in turbidity levels.
  • Monitor sediments to track landscape changes and erosion.
  • Monitor natural streams below mining.

Some best practices to follow while Measuring Water Turbidity:

There are numerous methods to measure the turbidity of water. To measure how cloudy water is, we can use anything from visual methods to specialised tools. An instrument like LabScat is ideal for quick field environmental use. However, for reliable data collection and use, following best practices is vital. When using the tool, it is significant to adhere to some set of guidelines, including:

  • Select the proper monitoring site: The site you choose to check turbidity must be easily accessible and produce a homogenous sample.
  • Know the environmental limits of the tool for the specific sample site. This includes precipitation and temperature conditions.
  • Importantly, choose the appropriate instrument based on detection angle, light source, and sensitivity.
  • Calibrate the unit according to the manufacturers’ recommendations.
  • Verify the calibration using similar technology.
  • Maintain the tool or instrument.
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