News

The opinions expressed in our new items and other published works are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart About Salt Council (referred to as SASC) or its Directors, Officers, Volunteer, agents or staff.

All rights reserved. No part of any SASC published work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher.

Information contained in our published works have been obtained by SASC from sources believed to be reliable. However, neither SASC nor its authors guarantees the accuracy or completeness of any information published herein and neither SASC nor its authors shall be responsible for any errors, omissions, or claims for damages, including exemplary damages, arising out of use, inability to use, or with regard to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information contained in SASC publications.


<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
  • 16 May 2022 7:32 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    How a fleet of road sweepers remove sand from Sudbury roads each spring | CBC News

    Every spring a fleet of street sweepers patrol Greater Sudbury's roads to remove the salt and sand that accumulated over the long winter.

    Last year, the city spent $1.77 million to clear the extensive road network from road sand and salt ahead of the summer.

    Kerry Lokan, the city's manager for street sweeping, said 2022 looks to be a typical year, and should be on par with what was spent in 2021.

    The money covers 26 road sweepers, 11 sidewalk sweepers and eight water trucks that a group of 45 city staff and contractors operate. 

    Lokan said the Ramsey Lake watershed and areas with high pedestrian traffic are the top priorities for street sweeping once the snow melts. But she added the city tries to vary which outlying areas it covers each day to provide a consistent level of service.

    "The process is that we send out a water truck and they spread a layer of water to try to keep the dust down," she said. "And then we send out our street sweepers."

    The city has three primary depots where the trucks deposit their loads of salt and sand. That material is then used to cover waste in the city's landfill.

    "At the end of the day, when they've finished placing the waste, they're required to cover that waste with a granular material," Lokan said. "So this helps offset some of the city's costs."

    Lokan added it would be cost-prohibitive to filter the salt and sand for use next winter. 

    Mike Popowich, an equipment operator with the city for 12 years, said he enjoys the work during street sweeping season.

    "It's satisfying once you get a street fully swept," he said. "Going to a street that's full of sand and seeing it all cleaned up, and people enjoying it, yeah it is."

    He said it takes a full team of people to clear the streets each spring.

  • 09 May 2022 7:07 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Our View: 11 tons per mile? Maine has to stop using so much road salt - Portland Press Herald

    The changing climate is making Maine’s winter roads more treacherous, but the rock salt used to clear them is polluting rivers and streams throughout the state. That’s the tension at the heart of a new report on winter road maintenance.

    The report, from University of Maine researchers in collaboration with the Maine Department of Transportation, builds on a similar study from a decade ago, and shows that the amount of salt in both freshwater and groundwater is increasing, putting life in those waterbodies at risk.

    But rising as well is the amount of ice, sleet and freezing rain we get every winter. It will take coordination between local and state officials to make sure that keeping roads safe doesn’t imperil important waterways across Maine – and even then, in some areas, people may have to change their expectations for traveling during a winter storm.

    As the report notes, rock salt, affordable and easy to handle, is the most commonly used winter road treatment in Maine, where about 493,000 tons of the stuff was used in the winter of 2019-20 – 787 pounds for every Maine resident, or 11 tons per lane mile of road.

    There has been a steady rise in salt use over the last 15 years, as climate change has brought more-messy storms – instead of the dry snow that is so easily plowed away – and people have become accustomed to getting around regardless of the weather.

    The salt keeps the road surface from freezing, but a lot of it is washed into the water. In Minnesota, a study found that 70 percent of the salt used every year in and around Minneapolis and St. Paul stayed in the watershed.

    So it’s no surprise that, according the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, 20 streams in Maine are chloride impaired, including the Bond Brook and Kennedy Brook watersheds around Western Avenue in Augusta, and the Long Creek area around the Maine Mall.

    Once a stream is impaired, it takes a lot of effort to fix. If Maine is going to allow these areas to heal, and keep others from getting worse, it’ll have to better manage winter road maintenance.

    That’s going to take a high degree of coordination. The DOT takes care of only about 20 percent of Maine roads, with the rest under the care of local governments. They’ll need resources, information and guidance to change the way they do things now.

    The report suggests stronger links between university research, environmental monitoring and road-maintenance workers. That would help the people on the ground locally better understand how each individual storm and adjust the amount and timing of salt as needed.

    Also, the DOT should make sure local operations are aware on the latest research and training for how to apply road salt. States across the country, including New Hampshire and Minnesota, are confronting the issue the same as we are, and we can learn a lot from their trials.

    On roads near vulnerable streams, however, there may be no choice but to cut back salt use to the point where it affects road safety, at least to some degree, making it difficult to drive during or immediately after a storm.

    It’s a tough trade-off, and one that a lot of communities are not used to making. Residents need to understand the damage that road salt is doing to their environment, and what that means for the health and well-being of their community.

    Otherwise, people will continue to demand that their road be clear, even in a storm, and Maine streams will continue to fill up with salt.


  • 25 Apr 2022 9:15 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Report urges changes in Maine's use of road salt | Environment | unionleader.com

    Maine should develop a statewide plan for reducing the amount of salt it uses to treat roads in the winter, a new report said.

    The report, from the University of Maine's Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said the state needs to make salt reduction a priority in parts of the state that are environmentally sensitive. The study, done in collaboration with the Maine Department of Transportation, also said officials should increase the monitoring of chlorides in water bodies and set up a dashboard to inform the public about its findings.

    The report focused on road maintenance in an era of a changing climate and said the state should do an assessment of hazardous weather conditions based on hourly weather data to help determine how snow, rain, freezing rain and sleet intermix during storms in various parts of the state. That information, the report said, can help refine predictions of how long and intense a storm may be and that, in turn, can help with decision-making on when and where to use salt.

    The study, "Road Salt in Maine: An Assessment of Practices, Impacts and Safety," comes as state officials are trying to figure out how climate change will affect road conditions and maintenance, with a consensus emerging that a warmer climate will mean worse potholes and an increased risk of water pollution from excessive salting to treat roads in winter.

    Warming weather will have a big impact on the use of road salt in Maine, the report found. It has led to increased variability in winter weather with both record low and record high snowfall years occurring between 2010 and 2019.

    The University of Maine report urged greater cooperation and information-sharing among experts as a key to preparing for the impact of a changing climate. It said that stronger links between university research, environmental monitoring and road-maintenance workers can help prepare the state for changing conditions.

    It also suggests reaching out to towns and cities around the state, possibly through the Maine Municipal Association, to help keep local officials up to date on the latest research on the impact of using salt on roads and to provide training on to use it responsibly.

    In Maine, rock salt, or sodium chloride, is most commonly used to treat winter roads because it is relatively cheap and easy to handle. However, it can also get into fresh water supplies and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection said that 20 streams in the state are now on a list of chloride-impaired urban stream watersheds.

    It can take decades for a body of water to recover from chloride pollution, the report said.

    Maine used about 493,000 tons of road salt in 2019 — 20, equal to roughly 787 pounds of salt for every Maine resident, or 11 tons per lane mile per year, the report said.

    Other states, notably New Hampshire and Minnesota, are taking steps to reduce the amount of salt needed to treat their roads, the report said, and Maine should do likewise.

  • 24 Apr 2022 8:59 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Report urges changes in Maine's use of road salt (yahoo.com)

    Apr. 23—Maine should develop a statewide plan for reducing the amount of salt it uses to treat roads in the winter, a new report said.

    The report, from the University of Maine's Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said the state needs to make salt reduction a priority in parts of the state that are environmentally sensitive. The study, done in collaboration with the Maine Department of Transportation, also said officials should increase the monitoring of chlorides in water bodies and set up a dashboard to inform the public about its findings.

    The report focused on road maintenance in an era of a changing climate and said the state should do an assessment of hazardous weather conditions based on hourly weather data to help determine how snow, rain, freezing rain and sleet intermix during storms in various parts of the state. That information, the report said, can help refine predictions of how long and intense a storm may be and that, in turn, can help with decision-making on when and where to use salt.

    The study, "Road Salt in Maine: An Assessment of Practices, Impacts and Safety," comes as state officials are trying to figure out how climate change will affect road conditions and maintenance, with a consensus emerging that a warmer climate will mean worse potholes and an increased risk of water pollution from excessive salting to treat roads in winter.

    Warming weather will have a big impact on the use of road salt in Maine, the report found. It has led to increased variability in winter weather with both record low and record high snowfall years occurring between 2010 and 2019.

    The University of Maine report urged greater cooperation and information-sharing among experts as a key to preparing for the impact of a changing climate. It said that stronger links between university research, environmental monitoring and road-maintenance workers can help prepare the state for changing conditions.

    It also suggests reaching out to towns and cities around the state, possibly through the Maine Municipal Association, to help keep local officials up to date on the latest research on the impact of using salt on roads and to provide training on to use it responsibly.

    In Maine, rock salt, or sodium chloride, is most commonly used to treat winter roads because it is relatively cheap and easy to handle. However, it can also get into fresh water supplies and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection said that 20 streams in the state are now on a list of chloride-impaired urban stream watersheds.

    It can take decades for a body of water to recover from chloride pollution, the report said.

    Maine used about 493,000 tons of road salt in 2019 — 20, equal to roughly 787 pounds of salt for every Maine resident, or 11 tons per lane mile per year, the report said.

    Other states, notably New Hampshire and Minnesota, are taking steps to reduce the amount of salt needed to treat their roads, the report said, and Maine should do likewise.


  • 20 Apr 2022 6:37 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Fenton commits to buy 1,500 tons of road salt | News for Fenton, Linden, Holly MI | tctimes.com

    The Fenton City Council unanimously approved the cost to purchase bulk road salt for next winter’s road maintenance operations from Detroit Salt Company.

    City council approved the cost at its meeting Monday, April 11 at the recommendation of Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Dan Brisson, who explained the purchase in an April 6 memo.

    Brisson said the DPW has worked with the Genesee County Road Commission (GCRC) purchasing office for the past three years to participate in its bulk road salt purchasing consortium. The purchasing office negotiated with Detroit Salt and the GCRC Board of Commissioners approved purchasing salt from Detroit Salt Company for the 2022-2023 season.

    This year, the DPW committed to 1,500 tons for the season and pricing through the GCRC contract will be $69.90 per ton. This works out to be $104,850. Fenton will work directly with Detroit Salt to place the orders and invoicing will come directly from the Detroit Salt.

     Through the Genesee County purchasing consortium, salt cost $60.84 per ton ($91,260) for the 2020-2021 season and $62.66 per ton ($93,990) for the 2021-2022 season.


  • 27 Mar 2022 8:03 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Accumulation of de-icing salts in lakes threatens those who live there – The Nizh Times

    The accumulation of de-icing salts in the lakes threatens those who live thereThe accumulation of de-icing salts in the lakes threatens those who live there

    Canada dumps millions of tons of de-icing salts on the roads each year and this causes salt pollution which can become toxic for certain organisms in fresh water. An article by Marie-Pier Hébert, post-doctoral fellow at the University of Vermont and UQAC.

    ANALYSIS – Like many countries with cold winters, Canada sprays millions of tonnes of de-icing salt on the roads every year. Although we no longer see them under our feet in the spring, road salts do not disappear by magic: they dissolve, run off and accumulate (in part) in bodies of water.

    Saline pollution can, however, quickly become toxic to certain freshwater organisms.

    Certain species of microscopic animals, such as crustacean zooplankton (including the famous “water fleas”), can be sensitive to the increase in salinity in their environment. The loss of these small aquatic grazers could lead to significant environmental consequences, such as the proliferation of algae (normally grazed by zooplankton) or the reduction of food intake for young fish.

    As an aquatic ecologist, I study how freshwater ecosystems and organisms respond to global change. With colleagues from some twenty universities around the world, including a team from the interuniversity research group in limnology (GRIL) at UQAM and McGill University, I participated in a series of international studies in order to to better understand the response of freshwater plankton to salinization.

    AN ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE ON A GLOBAL SCALE

    Often measured as chloride (an ion commonly found in salts), the salinity of many lakes, rivers, ponds and wetlands is gradually increasing due to human activities. The causes are multiple. Runoff from de-icing salts (such as sodium chloride) applied in winter can play a major role in colder regions, but other practices such as agricultural fertilizer application, mining, raising the sea ​​level or land deforestation also contribute to the salinization of fresh waters.

    The catch is that once the salts infiltrate our freshwater supplies, it is difficult, if not impossible, to extract them. Chloride contamination can persist for decades. The accumulation of de-icing salts, for example, can, among other things, pose problems for the management of drinking water and the release of harmful substances into water bodies. In fact, the salinization of fresh waters today represents a global environmental issue.

    LOSS OF ZOOPLANKTON AND ASSOCIATED CONSEQUENCES

    To assess the plankton fragility threshold of large-scale lakes, our international research team coordinated to carry out the same study in experimental enclosures in 16 lakes in North America and Europe. Our research indicates that increased salinity can cause loss of biodiversity and high zooplankton mortality at chloride levels similar to those measured in lakes polluted by de-icing salts.

    Similarly, in nearly half of the experimental sites in the study, the massive loss of grazing zooplankton allowed algae to proliferate. In lakes, algal blooms can reduce water clarity (which can, among other things, harm organisms living deeper) and compromise certain “services” provided by these ecosystems, such as the quality of drinking water. , fisheries or recreational activities. In other words, the sensitivity of zooplankton to salt pollution can create a domino effect on other links in the aquatic food chain, thus destabilizing the ecological balance of lakes and harming their health.

    These research results reinforce the conclusions drawn from other studies, but on a larger scale. Most studies on the subject focus on a single body of water or on model species in the laboratory. By joining forces with researchers elsewhere in the world, this collective effort has made it possible to show that a multitude of zooplankton species commonly found in lakes are sensitive to salinization, even if the environmental conditions differ.

    As in many areas of science, there are always certain limits to what can be concluded from a study. That said, when you get the same results repeatedly and in multiple places, you can start thinking about the next step: the application of research findings and sociopolitical issues.

    APPEALS TO PUBLIC AUTHORITIES

    An important observation resulting from the work: the concentrations of chloride that can cause the mortality of 50% of zooplankton are often lower than the threshold concentrations established by government directives. In other words, whether in Canada, the United States or several places in the European Union, current water quality regulations are not stringent enough to protect lakes from pollution by salt.

    In their natural state, freshwater ecosystems contain very little chloride; say, usually less than 20 mg Cl–/L. The threshold concentration considered safe for aquatic life in Canada is 120 mg Cl–/L, while in the United States it is 230 mg Cl–/L (about one or two tablespoons (s) of table salt in a bucket of fresh water).

    Although adverse effects (especially on zooplankton) may occur below these chloride concentrations, one might still believe that the more conservative guidelines in Canada are safer. But it would still be necessary for these maximum thresholds to be maintained. This is not always the case, as the World Wildlife Fund of Canada (WWF-Canada) reminds us. In fact, chloride levels in lakes polluted by de-icing salts can reach several hundred, and sometimes even thousands, of mg/L.

    Every winter, more than five million tonnes of salt are dumped on Canadian roads, pavements and parking lots; the metropolises in the east of the country, such as Montreal and Toronto, can spread nearly 150,000 tonnes on their own. The researchers call for reducing the application of road salts and considering alternative options. A recent study has also suggested some practices to improve management, such as the use of brine-based liquids to reduce the amount of salt applied. One thing is certain, it seems to have become imperative to develop dialogue with decision-makers and political leaders in order to ensure road safety while protecting environmental health.

  • 24 Mar 2022 7:27 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Road salt is terrible for lakes and streams. Minnesota may have a solution | Grist

    Environmental activist Sue Nissen wears a teaspoon on a string around her neck, which she likes to hand out to lawmakers during hearings in the Minnesota state legislature. That’s because one teaspoon of salt is enough to pollute five gallons of water, making it inhospitable for life. 

    Road crews dump more than 20 million metric tons of salt on U.S. roads each winter to keep them free of ice and snow – an almost unfathomable number of teaspoons. Now, Nissen’s organization, Stop Over Salting, is pushing for Minnesota to pass a bill to reduce that figure by helping applicators learn how to use less of it — a technique called “smart salting.”

    The reason, she said, is because the state’s freshwater bodies are in a crisis: 54 lakes and streams are “impaired” by high salt concentrations, meaning they fail to meet federal water quality standards, while dozens of others are drawing closer to that tipping point, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. But environmental activists and scientists argue that it’s possible to maintain winter safety while reducing the amount of salt spread on streets and highways.

    “There are solutions,” Nissen told Grist. “We can still have our winter mobility and be safe … with less salt.”

    Road salt, which works by lowering the melting point of ice, is cheap and effective, reducing car accidents by up to 85 percent. But aside from corroding metal and concrete — leading to an estimated $5 billion worth of damages each year — it also ends up in rivers and lakes, where it has toxic effects on aquatic life. In January, researchers from the United States and Canada found that even salt concentrations below the threshold considered “safe” by governments were causing severe damage to organisms.

    Warnings about the effects of road salt on freshwater bodies and ecosystems first started in the 1970s, said Bill Hintz, the study’s lead author and an environmental scientist at the University of Toledo in Ohio. But salt use has tripled since then. Now, with climate change encouraging excessive salting by making winter storms more unpredictable, officials in states like Minnesota are starting to realize the magnitude of the problem. 

    The Minnesota bill, if it passes, would be one of the first state laws to encourage “smart salting,” a way to reduce road salt use while still maintaining winter safety. New Hampshire passed a similar law in 2013, while Wisconsin also has  a “salt wise” training program. In New York, the Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force launched a three-year pilot program this month to reduce freshwater salt contamination. 

    The concept of smart salting encompasses a range of technologies and techniques. Brining involves laying down a liquid mixture of salt before a storm, which prevents ice from sticking and reduces the need for repetitive salting. It also includes applicators learning how to calibrate their equipment to know how much salt they’re using in the first place, as well as when to stop salting (below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, for example, salt is much less effective). Minnesota has been training applicators in these techniques since 2005, but under the new bill, certified “smart salters” would be protected from liability, preventing them from being sued for slip-and-fall accidents. 

    Nissen hopes that this protection will encourage more private applicators to be certified in smart salting practices, which are not only better for the environment but help save money on salt. But convincing them is a challenge, she said, because people have come to associate the sight of salt with winter safety. “If anybody calls in and says, ‘I don’t see enough salt,’” she said, “they call the applicator and say ‘get out there and put more salt down.’”

    This overreliance on road salt has severe environmental consequences. The most common kind used for de-icing is sodium chloride — rock salt — but calcium and magnesium chlorides are sometimes used for colder weather. Once it enters a body of water, salt is almost impossible to remove, requiring expensive and energy-intensive processes like reverse osmosis. Chloride, in particular, binds tightly to water molecules, and can be highly toxic to organisms like fish, amphibians, and microscopic zooplankton, which form the basis of the food chain in a lake or river. 

    If the zooplankton die off, Hintz said, it can trigger a chain reaction that allows algae to flourish, causing toxic blooms and affecting native fish species that can’t survive in murky waters. That should trouble recreational fishers everywhere, he said, but salt contamination has also made it into drinking water, particularly in areas where people rely on deep wells to reach groundwater. In the Adirondacks in upstate New York, a 2019 study found that 64 percent of wells tested for sodium exceeded federal limits — which can be particularly dangerous for people with high blood pressure or others on sodium-restricted diets. 

    This makes salt-reduction programs like Minnesota’s crucial, Hintz said, to “flatten the curve” of freshwater salt concentrations. “Best management practices are critically important right now,” Hintz said. 

    But reducing salt use will only slow down the crisis, not stop it, Hintz warned. Salt that’s already been deposited might take years to show up in groundwater, and how much can be “safely” added without permanently damaging an ecosystem is an “open question,” he said. And non-salt alternatives, like sand or even beet juice, can come with their own problems, silting up rivers or introducing nutrients into ecosystems that can lead to algal blooms. 

    Some cities have opted for proactive solutions — preventing snow and ice from building up in the first place, rather than melting it with salt once it’s already a problem. Since 1988, the town of Holland, Michigan, has invested in a “snowmelt” system, which uses pre-heated water from a nearby power plant to warm sidewalks and roads through a network of pipes underneath the surface, eliminating the need for salting. But solutions like this one are expensive and labor-intensive, said Amy Sasamoto, an official with the city’s downtown development district. The town spent over $1 million to install the first 250,000 square feet of underground tubing, and the system still only encompasses a few streets in Holland’s main downtown shopping area, although Sasamoto said it could expand along with future development.

    These solutions may not be scalable to something like a four-lane highway, said Xianming Shi, an engineer and the ​​director of the National Center for Transportation Infrastructure Durability & Life-Extension at Washington State University. Shi studies how “connected infrastructure,” such as cars tapped into an information-sharing network, can increase winter road safety. For example, sharing real-time information about road conditions can help road maintenance crews know how much salt to use, reducing oversalting. 

    But even improved technology and data-sharing won’t be enough, Shi said, to stop the flow of salt. Instead, it’s going to be crucial to encourage safer winter driving habits — like asking people to stay home during storms whenever possible, or to drive more slowly even on a highway. 

    “People’s mindset is more of this moment, like ‘I want to drive fast through the winter,’” Shi said. “They don’t realize that this has a hidden consequence.” 


  • 11 Mar 2022 12:50 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Road Salt Pollution Levels Deemed Safe in U.S. and Canada May Not Protect Freshwater Ecosystems Enough | Smart News| Smithsonian Magazine

    Using salt to clear icy roads may be an effective winter safety measure, but excess salty meltwater can wreak havoc on freshwater ecosystems and drinking water resources. 

    In a new study, researchers show current water quality guidelines in North America and Europe are not enough to prevent dangerous levels of salinization. The findings were published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    "Salt concentrations are rising in lakes and rivers across North America and Europe over recent decades due to road deicing," says University of California San Diego ecologist Jonathan Shurin, who was not involved in the study, to Science Alert's David Nield. "The study suggests that the levels considered safe need to be revised downward."

    Previous research has shown salt leaching from agricultural and mining operations cause freshwater organisms, like zooplankton, to die off in alarming numbers. The cascading effect from the massive die-off can generate an enormous shift in the freshwater system's food web, reports Tara Yarlagadda for Inverse

    In the new study, researchers conducted experiments at several different sites in the United States, Canada, and Europe. To observe the isolated effects of salination on zooplankton in a controlled environment, the team altered sodium chloride levels in 16 large tanks of lake water called mesocosms, which allow scientists to focus on specific factors more easily than they could at an actual lake, according to Inverse.

    “With an experimental mesocosm approach, we can be more confident that we are indeed observing the effect of salt and not some other factor in the environment,” study author William Hintz, a freshwater ecologist at the University of Toledo, tells Inverse.

    Even at thresholds of sodium chloride that were considered safe, researchers found a significant loss of zooplankton populations and an increase in algae, per Science Alert. The safety threshold for sodium chloride is 230 milligrams per liter of water in the U.S. and 120 milligrams per liter in Canada. At 73 percent of the test sites, half of the zooplankton populations died off in salinity conditions considered safe by both countries.

    Zooplankton occupy almost all water bodies except rivers and streams. From oceans, lakes, and ponds, the tiny microorganisms are abundant. Most lakes will hold over 40 species of zooplankton and play a crucial and central role in freshwater food webs. Because the microorganisms are hold a central position in lake food webs, they can affect algal densities, water quality, fish production, and nutrient cycling. When salinization kills off zooplankton populations, it can affect fish growth rates and populations.

    "Almost all fish species consume zooplankton when they are young and need zooplankton to grow and eventually become bigger fish," Hintz tells Inverse.

    With fewer zooplankton, freshwater ecosystems are more prone to harsh algae blooms that affect water quality. Saltier freshwater also means less available drinking water. The team calls for policymakers to craft legislation that will lower approved sodium chloride concentrations to protect freshwater sources.

    "We — as a society — need to recognize that salt pollution is a major ecological issue affecting our freshwater ecosystems," Hintz tells Inverse. "We all need fresh water."

  • 10 Mar 2022 12:19 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Extensive Use of Salt to De-Ice Our Highways are Causing Damage to Freshwater Ecosystems | Nature World News

    Recent study shows that widespread usage of salt is also harming aquatic habitats, aside the fact that humans have such a salt dilemma that isn't related to modern nutrition, although salt has been successful at dewatering our roads in the wintertime.

    Seawater amounts judged acceptable by authorities in the United States, Canada, and Europe are insufficient to safeguard aquatic wildlife. The complexity and regular operation of these habitats are already seriously jeopardized.

    Extensive Use of Salt Harms Freshwater Ecosystems

    Experts compare rising solubility of salt in liquid to road salt, along with salt utilize in agricultural production, moreover researchers also want the political establishment to tighten its grip on the usage of sodium.

    According to UC San Diego News Center, environmentalist Jonathan Shurin, salinity levels in streams and ponds throughout Northern America and Europe have risen in previous years as a result of road de-icing and findings in recent study states that the acceptable thresholds should be reduced accordingly.

    Investigators carried out a series of tests at 16 different locations in the United States, Canada, Sweden, and Spain, observing the impact of rising tiers of table salt, which is amongst the most commonly used types of sodium in waterbodies.

    Even at normal limits of chloride which is about 230 milligrams per liter in the United States and 120 milligrams for every liter bottle in Canada, there was a serious drop of zooplankton and a raise in phytoplankton, as per Science Alert.

    Zooplankton is an important meal supply for fish larvae, and its elimination does have a significant impact. At salt detection limits endorsed in Canada and the United States, more than quarter of the zooplankton community died off at 73 % of the locations. And as zooplankton disappears, algae grow.

    Also read: NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover Finds a 'Martian Flower'

    The Result of Extensive Use of Sodium

    Shelley Arnott a Queen's University biologist explained in a statement that more algae in the waterways might result in a drop in aquatic vegetation, which might also damage creatures dwelling on the bottom of bodies of water.

    The elimination of zooplankton, which leads to increased algae, has the power to affect lakeside ecological systems in dimensions which might disrupt the functions bodies of water supply, specifically entertainment possibilities, potable water supply, and aquaculture.

    The fact that experts conducted such comparable observation at 16 different locations with identical findings indicates that the dilemma is the same regardless of regional changes in geography, agricultural management, as well as hydraulic conductivity. Sodium may stay in natural waters for generations, that is why it is critical to prevent salt from accumulating in the beginning

    Furthermore, as per to the authors, the advantages of sodium consumption, such as reducing road collision must be thoroughly assessed alongside the environmental consequences, especially if environment changes as a consequence of global warming.

    "The findings of this investigation demonstrate that the concentrations of saltwater that harm habitats are lesser than usual assumed, with fish, algae, as well as other creatures potentially getting damaged at quantities typically encountered in the wild," Shurin adds.

    These standards are followed by mass transit authorities that determine how much and when to use sodium to roadways to reduce frost. Experts and Authorities ought to impose stronger limitations on sodium contamination if we wish to maintain aquatic environment in the foreseeable.

  • 28 Feb 2022 7:50 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    The Trouble With Road Salt — And How It Reinforces Car Dependence – Streetsblog USA

    If you live in a northern state, you may be pretty accustomed to views like the one above.

    During winter storms, many northern climates use salt as a primary means of de-icing roads in the winter. Road salt is pretty inexpensive to purchase up front, but it’s actually quite damaging to our public infrastructure (roads, bridges), vehicles, and fresh water sources. Salt, or sodium chloride, is corrosive, suggesting that this inexpensive short-term fix to make our roads safer may be costing us more in the long run.

    Our use of salt increased exponentially after World War II, with the rise of the suburbs. As people became reliant on cars to travel to work, driving through all weather conditions became crucial to the economy, and thus we saw salt being introduced as a major tool to control winter road slickness.

    When commuters and truckers needed to travel in every condition, it became policy in many cities and towns that the roads would be cleared shortly after a storm. With more cars on the roads during slippery conditions, more collisions were prone to occur, so further solutions past a typical plow were sought out. A more recent study found that by dumping salt on our snowy and icy roads we reduce road collisions up to 87%.

    But before our society revolved around the use of cars, when storms came and made roads unsafe, a majority of people simply accepted the pavement was not traversable and stayed home. If there wasn’t a way to travel by walking or by train, trips were delayed and people took the days off until plows could come through and the weather cleared. Those that needed to drive in dangerous conditions put snow chains on their cars, and local governments would spread sand and cinders to improve traction on the ice.

    Although people might not have known this at the time, staying home for a few “snowed-in” days might ultimately be the better option for our towns’ financial resilience than our current habit of instantly clearing roads. Ostensibly, rock—or road—salt is inexpensive. It’s one of the reasons we rely on it so much, as the United States uses up to 20 million tons of salt per year to de-ice roads. Nevertheless, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that using rock salt as a de-icer has cost us approximately $5 billion dollars in annual repairs to cars, trucks, roads, and bridges, because of the long-term damage it does to vehicles and infrastructure.

    For those of us that live in colder northern climates, we all know that eventually after years of driving on salty roads, the bottoms of our cars will rust and erode. The chloride ions in salt have the ability to break down the protective oxide layer formed on the surface of some metals (including aluminum), and speed up the process of long-term damage. Not all pavement is created equal, but salt will shorten the lifespan of concrete and asphalt by accelerating the normal deterioration process through the freeze-thaw cycles in winter.

    Even though road salt decreases the life expectancy of our infrastructure, in the Northern U.S. and Canada, it’s become a necessity to making our roads safe for driving in snowy winters. Typically, we cover our roads with halite, or rock salt (the same form of salt we sometimes use for french fries) once it’s been through a lengthy purification process.

    Salt works by lowering the freezing point of water through a process called freezing point depression. Water needs to be at a temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) to begin forming into ice. Essentially, once salt is added into the mix, water has to get a lot colder than it normally would to freeze. That’s how we get the ice-melting-effect when we sprinkle salt on our front porches.

    Of course, inexpensive rock salt isn’t the perfect solution to de-icing. When temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it can be too cold for sodium chloride to be effective on its own. That’s when you may see local public works and transportation departments adding other chemicals (salts) such as magnesium chloride or calcium chloride to their salt (sodium chloride) mixes.

    Not only does sodium chloride contribute to the erosion of pavement and metal, once it washes away from the road, it leaches into the ground and can pollute our freshwater systems, causing a rise in sodium levels. And as of right now, we have no way to remove it. In 2018, a study of wells in Dutchess County, New York, found that the sodium concentration was much higher than the federal and state recommendations. They discovered levels as high as 860 milligrams per liter in some wells, while the general recommendation sits at 270 milligrams per liter.

    Joseph Stromberg from the Smithsonian Magazine wrote, “As more and more of the U.S. becomes urbanized and suburbanized, and as a greater number of roads crisscross the landscape, the mounting piles of salt we dump on them may be getting to be a bigger problem than ever.”

    Canada declared road salts as an environmental toxin in 2004, and they placed new guidelines on its use. Many local U.S. governments have searched for ways to at least reduce the use of road salts. Finding an alternative that eliminates the use of salt entirely is not so simple, though, as many of these alternatives have higher upfront costs. Other potential de-icing options that are at the same or lower price point of salt tend to not be as effective in breaking down icy roads.

    Removing salt from our roads entirely may seem a daunting feat while we rely on cars for transportation, but perhaps we can reduce its use. Organizations and some local governments are focusing on spreading the right amount of salt for different conditions.

    The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, for instance, offers “Smart Salting” training to individuals and organizations. Their goal is to “provide the latest technologies, best practices and tools, and available resources to assist your organization to be effective and efficient in managing snow and ice.”

    The Wisconsin Salt Wise Partnership works to educate maintenance professionals on how much salt is really needed to be effective. Even in our personal salt use, when maintaining our driveways and sidewalks, we tend to sprinkle more salt than we really need to effectively break down ice.

    There’s also been discussions about pre-salting the road before a storm, a practice Rhode Island adopted in 2012 called Anti-Icing. A more obscure alternative applies beet and tomato juice as a solution to keep our roads from icing over. It may seem odd, but the use of a prickle brine is also said to help minimize salt runoff and potentially help reduce salt use.

    Besides changing the way we dump salt on our roads, there are possible innovative solutions regarding the use of porous pavement. The EPA writes: “porous or permeable pavement allows standing water to seep through, removing water from roads that would normally go through freeze-thaw periods, thus preventing ice formation on the roads.”

    Over the years, road salt has caused a lot of problems and damage to our infrastructure and natural environment. Changing the way we salt our roads may be a good immediate fix to help reduce the speed of corrosion, but to really save our infrastructure, we need to rethink the way we’ve built our towns and cities to revolve around the automobile. If we continue expanding our roads instead of focusing on maintaining what we’ve already got, it will only create more demand for de-icing measures. In other words, if we want to stop literally salting our own earth, then we must get away from our dependence on cars.
<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 

© Smart About Salt Council.  Smart About Salt is a trademark and the Smart About Salt logo is a registered trademark of the Smart About Salt Council.

 Terms of Use  Refund Policy  Privacy Statement

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software