The New York Times calls for a new solution to reduce the use of salt to preserve road use during the winter months, citing a growing body of research claiming the substance is an “environmental pollutant” that has “harmful consequences”.
In a Friday article titled “Road Salt Works. But it’s also bad for the environment,” Times reporter Jenny Gross cited a number of experts advocating for the use of alternative methods to tackle the “adverse consequences for the environment and health” for people, as well as for wildlife, caused by salt on the roads.
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“As snowstorms sweep the US east coast this week, transportation officials have deployed a must-have solution to keeping winter roads clear: salt,” Gross wrote. “But while pouring tons of salt on the roads makes winter driving safer, it also has negative consequences for the environment and health, according to a growing body of research.”
She added that as snow and ice melt from roads, salt leaches into nearby soil, lakes and streams, sometimes contaminating drinking water sources and freshwater wildlife habitats. due to the high chloride levels.
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“More than 20 million tonnes of salt is dumped on American roads each winter, according to an estimate from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York City, and environmental costs are rising,” Gross wrote, while also referring to comments by ‘an environmental specialist. director of the Cary Institute who said that because of the low cost and effectiveness of salt, little had been done to reduce its environmental impact.
Gross went on to cite a number of studies that have shown significant elevations in sodium levels in water in parts of New York City.
“More and more counties and states are rethinking the amount of salt they use because of the associated costs,” she added, noting that New York Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced the appointment of a working group created to examine road salt contamination.
“Road salt also corrodes vehicles and bridges, causing $ 5 billion in annual repairs in the United States,” Gross wrote, referring to an Environmental Protection Agency estimate and adding that the AAA suggests Drivers to wash their vehicles regularly and limit driving to help offset the effects of road salt when it is at its highest concentration.
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“While there is no perfect solution to the problem, there are alternatives that can dramatically reduce salt use without compromising driver safety,” Gross wrote, citing the Cary Institute, saying that the treatment Pre-storm roads with a “brine solution” would reduce salt use by 75% while keeping the roads just as safe.
She added that building better salt storage sites could also minimize waste.