More than 22 million tons of road salt are dumped across the United States every year, primarily during the winter months.
We’ve written in the past about the environmental liability risks of winter stormwater, how Sodium (Na) and Chloride (Cl), the primary elements in road salt, are considered the greatest threat affecting groundwater during winter months.
They displace Calcium and Magnesium in the soil, disrupt its structure and cause erosion. They pollute waterways and impact wildlife and seep into drinking water. They even damage infrastructure by initiating and accelerating corrosion of metals and concrete.
These environmental concerns, and the surprisingly high cost of chloride-based de-icers, have led numerous states and municipalities to experiment with new environmentally friendly deicers. Here’s a crash course.
Environmentally Friendly Road Salt
Brine, a 23% salt and water solution, can be spread across roads before snowfall to reduce the amount of salt needed by 15 to 30 percent. Brine also reduces the amount of chloride released into the atmosphere by 14 to 29 percent. The use of brine is widespread in Massachusetts.
In Wisconsin, perhaps it’s no surprise that they are trying to treat their roadways with cheese brine, a waste product from cheese production. It lowers the amount of road salt needed by 30 percent.
As you’ll see in this chart from the Pennsylvania EPA, beet juice, molasses, and corn syrup have all been tried with varying degrees of success in different municipalities, as have several different acetate-based deicers.
In the Netherlands, the first solar-powered roadways have been put into use, though because of the high cost of this solution it will likely be decades before it can be implemented at any significant scale.
See how T-Environmental Reduces Liability and Saves Money
Comprehensive Compliance Services from T-Environmental
T-Environmental specializes in providing companies with cost-effective environmental compliance to reduce the risk of civil and criminal penalties.
As a part of our SWEPE Stormwater System, our team will investigate your operation, determine your compliance needs and recommend a cost effective solution to bring your site into compliance with all applicable stormwater regulations, whether that includes guidance on your use of road salts or not.
Because environmental regulations change frequently and staying compliant can become a real burden, we are often contracted to monitor our clients’ sites to ensure ongoing compliance.