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U of Minnesota research finds most road salt is making it into the state's lakes and rivers
Date:2/10/2009

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The effects could be severe. Continuous levels of chloride concentration (as low as 250 mg/L, the equivalent of one teaspoon of salt in five gallons of water) have been shown to be harmful to aquatic life and to affect the taste of drinking water. In 2008, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency listed five metro area streams as already impaired by chloride. Increases in sodium and chloride have been shown to decrease the biodiversity in wetland areas, altering the development of wood frogs, decreasing the number and types of fish available, and increasing mortality rates of organisms that rely on an aquatic system. Increases in sodium and chloride have also been shown to increase mobilization of heavy metals in the soil along major highways.

To help reduce the effects, researchers recommend more judicious use of road salt through increased training of snow plow drivers to get the most out of the road salt they apply. Applying sodium chloride to pavement temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit is generally not effective. At higher temperatures, researchers suggest using only one to three cups of salt per 1000 square feet. These recommendations are working at the University of Minnesota. Since training began two years ago, the university has reduced use of road salt by 41 percent and saved more than $50,000 in the first year.


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Contact: Patty Mattern
mattern@umn.edu
612-624-2801
University of Minnesota
Source:Eurekalert

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