Dec 25, 2017

Road Salt Pollution Damages Groundwater Quality

Scientists are working to develop alternative to road salt to combat icy roadways

Road salt damages water quality

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, one teaspoon of road salt permanently pollutes five gal of water. The mineral in salt that contaminates groundwater, chloride, is extremely difficult to remove without the use of reverse osmosis and is toxic to aquatic life.

In Madison, Wis., residents have noticed a salty taste to their water in recent years. Upon further investigation by the Madison Water Utility, chloride levels in Well 14 have doubled in the last 15 years to approximately 125 mg/L. While chloride isn’t considered a health threat by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it does impact the taste of the water and the health of those on low-salt diets.

Moving forward in salt reduction, few people know that besides salt use, cheese brine, beet juice and sand can also be used to treat icy roads. According to the Minnesota Public Radio, scientists are working on developing nanotechnology to coat roads and solar roads. Globally, some countries are beginning to implement permeable pavement that does not allow ice to form. Until such strategies are put into practice, selective salting and rigorous shoveling are some of the best tools to protect groundwater from further contamination.