Road Salts

On Scholar’s Day I attended the Environmental Science presentation entitled “TheEnvironmental Impacts of Chemical Deicers and Road Salt”.

I was required to attendthis presentation for my Environmental Issues class as well. The presentation wasapproximately 25 minutes long and included a powerpoint presentation. In the presentation itself, it stated the impacts of road salts and deicers, the stateuses on the roadways during the winter months.

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The most commonly used road salt issodium chloride, which is also the most inexpensive and readily available. Recently aftermore than a half century of its widespread use in North America, the use of sodiumchloride on the roadways have come under scrutiny by the environmental and scientificcommunities as well as regulators and legislators. The main residual effects of road saltsand deicers is the degradation of road side habitat, such as grasses, wildlife kills, andwater quality issues.

According to the National Research Council road salt in the UnitedStates ranges from 8 million to 12 million tons of sodium chloride per year. In thepresentation also, it stated that the wildlife could be substantially effected because theroad salt can severely damage vegetation, which is by far the most used food resource bymammals. Deicers can also damage and corrode bridge decks, which is a very dangerouseffect.

In the presentation conclusion it stated that states who use road salts the most arelooking into other forms of deicing. Two alternatives being considered are calciummagnesium acetate and potassium acetate. Both have low corrosive capabilities, but theone draw back is that they are quite a bit more expensive than sodium chloride. To thisday the presentation stated, sodium chloride, even with all the known adverse effects, isstill used by more than 98% of road deicing communities across the United States.