Effects of Road Salt to the Environment

Good Essays
The first American use of road salt was in New Hampshire in 1938. By 1942, 5,000 tons of salt was used nationwide (Kelly, Today, it is estimated that 15,000,000 tons of salt are used on roads in the winter; a 300,000-percent increase (Kelly, 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...

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