From: Quarterdeck Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 1997

As clear as mud
Particles where you least expect them

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These paper filters were used to remove particles from one-liter water samples. They show that creeks, lakes, and rivers hold much greater amounts of particulate matter than water from the coastal ocean.

Creek in central Texas

Lake in central Texas

Distilled water

The surf zone on Fire Island, New York

Look closely and you'll see that seawater has fewer particles than the sample from a Texas A&M water fountain, which has only a few more particles than distilled water.

Particles are not the only things affecting water quality. Filters do not capture dissolved salts, minerals, or pollutants.

Hudson River

Coastal ocean about 90 miles off the Atlantic coast

Texas A&M water fountain

Water fountain in New York. Most of this material is copper from decaying pipes.

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Last Modified: 05 May, 2000