Suspended solids

Suspended solids

Suspended solids refers to small solid particles which remain in suspension in water as a colloid or due to the motion of the water. It is used as one indicator of water quality.

It is sometimes abbreviated SS, but is not to be confused with settleable solids, also abbreviated SS, which contribute to the blocking of sewer pipes.


Suspended solids are important as pollutants and pathogens are carried on the surface of particles. The smaller the particle size, the greater the surface area per unit mass of particle, and so the greater the pollutant load that is likely to be carried.


Removal of suspended solids is generally achieved through the use of sedimentation and/or water filters (usually at a municipal level).By eliminating most of the suspended solids in a water supply, the significant water is usually rendered close to drinking quality. This is followed by disinfection to ensure that any free floating pathogens, or pathogens associated with the small remaining amount of suspended solids, are rendered ineffective.

Effectiveness of filtering

The use of a very simple cloth filter, consisting of a folded cotton sari, drastically reduces the load of cholera carried in the water, and is suitable for use by the very poor; in this case, an appropriate technology method of disinfection might be added, such as solar water disinfection.

A major exception to this generalization is arsenic contamination of groundwater, as arsenic is a very serious pollutant which is soluble, and thus not removed when suspended solids are removed. This makes it very difficult to remove, and finding an alternative water source is often the most realistic option.

ee also

* Total suspended solids
* Turbidity
* Bottom Trawling

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