Effects of Road Salt to the Environment

750 Words3 Pages
The first American use of road salt was in New Hampshire in 1938. By 1942, 5,000 tons of salt was used nationwide (Kelly, et.al.). Today, it is estimated that 15,000,000 tons of salt are used on roads in the winter; a 300,000-percent increase (Kelly, et.al.). Road salt is leaving a detrimental effect on the environment and discontinuation is vital to keeping plants, animals, and humans safe and healthy. Road salt is a key component to staying safe in the winter, but it is not safe for the environment. Scientists are looking for alternatives to road salt that are both more effective and safer for the environment. Road salt comes into contact with the natural environment by means of snow and ice melting into water. The salt then runs, with the water, into lakes and streams, habitats and sources of water for both plants and animals. As cars drive along roads and highways, the revolving wheels spray salt on plants. Plants that are sensitive to large quantities of sodium, or salt, can experience potassium deficiency, stunted growth, phosphorus deficiency, toxic amounts of chloride, and premature leaf drop (Gould). Aquatic plants that are sensitive to high levels of salt are likely to die because the salt absorbs the water, causing plant cells to shrivel and die (Gould). When amphibians and other semi-aquatic freshwater organisms swim in salty water they too shrivel up and die, similar to a slug covered in salt (Siegel). The salt running into bodies of water is disrupting the food chain and killing thousands of organisms every day. Sodium chloride is the effective ingredient in both table salt and road salt (Rastogi). The only difference is that road salt is unfiltered and unpurified. This means that they have equivalent effects on yo... ... middle of paper ... .... Cary Institute of Ecosystem System, 2014. Web. 27 Feb 2014. "Environmental, Health and Economic Impacts of Salt." New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. State of New Hampshire, 2014. Web. 4 Mar 2014. "Management Practices." University of Michigan. Regents of the University of Michigan, 2010. Web. 4 Mar 2014. Rastogi, Nina. "Salting the Earth." Slate. The Slate Group, 2014. Web. 28 Feb 2014. Siegel, Lori. "Hazard Identification for Human and Ecological Effects of Sodium Chloride Road Salt." Rebuilding I-93. New Hampshire Department of Transportation, 2004. Web. 4 Mar 2014. Strohl, Daniel. "How exactly does road salt cause cars to rust?." Hemmings Daily. American City Business Journals, 2012. Web. 3 Mar 2014. Wenta, Rick, and Kirsti Sorsa. "Road Salt Report - 2012." Public Health: Madison & Dane County. City of Madison, 2014. Web. 2 Mar 2014.

More about Effects of Road Salt to the Environment

Open Document