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                          Let's Talk Booms

By Dave Kendziorski, Stromtech, Inc. - WICAR Program Manager

Socks and booms are fabric tubes filled with a filter media that are designed to remove sediments, oils, and metals from storm water runoff. They are typically placed around catch basins or across channels or ditches. They remove pollutants by slowing the water down, which allows particles to settle out, and by allowing the water to filter through the media to capture pollutants. Socks generally have a diameter of 2” or 3”. Booms typically have a diameter of 5” to 8”. Sediment booms are usually filled with coarse sand, pea gravel, straw, cellulose (paper), or weird things such as ground corn husks. Oil only absorbent booms (white) are usually polypropylene strips or fibers coated with a chemical that absorbs oil and fuels. Similar general purpose absorbent booms (blue, green, or gray) absorb all fluids, including water and antifreeze. Sediment and oil absorbent booms work pretty well if properly placed and maintained.

Metal absorbent booms use natural properties of substances such as peat, biochar, charcoal, zeolite, and compost to remove metals. Some products use specialty coatings that absorb metals. The metal absorbent booms are much more costly than oil absorbents (plus they are heavy, which adds to the shipping cost). Unfortunately, the metal reductions are probably going to be fairly modest – maybe a 25% reduction at most (manufacturers will claim much higher removals). To achieve higher levels of metal removal, you’d have to use something larger than a boom, such as a filter bed or box.

Sediment Booms: Purchase at garden and building supply stores. Online erosion control retailers offer a large variety of sizes and types.

Oil Absorbent Booms: May purchase at building supply stores. Most facilities purchase absorbents online at sites such as (best selection); uline. com; or Crest Environmental ( is a Wisconsin – based supplier. Many different varieties are available, including socks, booms, rolls, pads, and pillows.

Metal Removal Booms:


MetalZorb (yellow cubes) Cleanwayusa. com

Peat/Zeolite North of Ordinary,

BioChar (Note: Gullywasher does not offer booms on their website, but their type of biochar works pretty good, and they can make whatever you want.)


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