If a large amount of suspended solids are present in water, it will appear turbid in appearance. The turbidity depends upon fineness and concentration of particles present in water.
Originally turbidity was determined by measuring the depth of column of liquid required to cause the image of a candle flame at the bottom to diffuse into a uniform glow. This was measured by Jackson candle turbidity meter. The calibration was done based on suspensions of silica from Fuller's earth. The depth of sample in the tube was read against the part per million (ppm) silica scale with one ppm of suspended silica called one Jackson Turbidity unit (JTU). Beacause standards were prepared from materials found in nature such as Fuller's earth, consistency in standard formulation was difficult to achieve.
These days turbidity is measured by applying Nephelometry, a technique to measure level of light scattered by the particles at right angles to the incident light beam. The scattered light level is proportional to the particle concentration in the sample. The unit of expression is Nephelometric Turbidity Unit (NTU). The IS values for drinking water is 10 to 25 NTU.