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    How Road Salt Impacts the Environment

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    Geo Beats

    by Geo Beats

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    While salt trucks are a familiar sight for many Americans, few might know that vast quantities of road salt are damaging our environment. As a result, cities are investigating natural alternatives to reduce salt use.

    The U.S. uses about 22 million tons of road salt each year to keep driving conditions safer and protect human lives during winter months. While salt trucks are a familiar sight for many Americans, few might know that vast quantities of road salt are damaging our environment. As a result, cities are investigating natural alternatives to reduce salt use.

    Pouring salt over snow or ice encourages melting since salt water’s freezing point is lower than plain water. Consequently, it’s become an important tool for every city that sees harsh cold weather. Increased road construction has also increased overall salt use.

    While salt is natural, it can also become corrosive and toxic in large amounts. After road salt dissolves into sodium and chloride ions, it travels with running water into rivers and lakes as well as the earth’s groundwater.

    Recent studies show high concentrations of sodium and chloride in our watersheds, surface water, and tap water; those concentrations affect water density, circulation, and chemistry. Studies also show toxic chloride levels threatening wildlife in and around affected water. Salt can dehydrate plant life growing near roads and attract certain animals like deer, potentially causing accidents.