The New York Times calls for a new way to reduce salt use to preserve roadways in winter. This is based on growing research that claims the salt is an “environmental pollution” with “damaging consequences.”
In a Friday piece headlined, “Road Salt Works. However, Salt on the Roads is also bad for the environment. Jenny Gross, the Times reporter, cited experts to support alternative ways of combating the “damaging environmental, health, and consequences” of salt on the roads.
According to growing research, salting roads can make winter driving safer but it can also have harmful environmental and health effects.
She said that snow and ice melting on roads can cause salt to wash into soil, lakes, and streams. This can sometimes lead to contamination of freshwater wildlife habitats and drinking water sources due to high levels of chloride.
Gross stated that more than 20 million tons of salt are poured onto U.S. roads every winter according to an estimate from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, New York. Gross also referenced comments made by an environmental manager at Cary Institute, who claimed salt’s effectiveness and cheapness meant little was done to reduce its environmental impact.
Gross cited a number of studies that demonstrated a significant increase in sodium levels in water in New York.
“More states and counties are reconsidering how much salt they use due to the associated costs,” she said, noting that Democratic New York Governor. Kathy Hochul announced the recent appointments to a task force to examine road-salt contamination.
Gross stated that road salt can also cause corrosion of vehicles and bridges and cost $5 billion annually in repairs in the United States. He used an estimate from the Environmental Protection Agency. AAA suggested that drivers wash their cars regularly and reduce driving to offset the harmful effects of road salt.
Gross stated that there are “alternatives that can significantly reduce salt consumption without compromising driver safety,” citing the Cary Institute. Gross claimed that salt brine would be able to treat roads before storms with a “salt-brine solution”, which would reduce salt use by 75% and keep roads as safe.
She also stated that better salt storage facilities could reduce waste.