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EPA’s Porous Pavement Cuts Down on Parking Lot Pollution

EPA rain runoff

Parking lots have a nasty tendency to harbor all the oil, grease, and antifreeze that leak from vehicles. And after a heavy rain, all those substances mix together and take a trip to the closest porous surface–no matter whether it’s a storm drain, patch of soil, or a river. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency thinks it has the ultimate simple fix: porous pavement.

The EPA has settled on porous concrete, porous asphalt, and interlocking concrete pavers as the most promising water-sucking materials. Now a 3,995-square-meter slice of the organization’s Edison, New Jersey parking lot is covered in parking rows filled with different kinds of permeable pavement for a real-world test. So how will the EPA judge the winner?

Each experimental parking row features subsections lined with an impermeable geotextile fabric that collects water and sends it through a series of pipes to a collection tank. Whichever tank holds the most water takes the crown.

We won’t find out which material is best at absorbing water any time soon–the EPA will collect data in its parking lot over the next 10 years. And by that time, vehicles might use a minimum of oil, grease, and all the other substances that plague our parking lots.

[Via Scientific American]

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