The annual usage of road salt is seemingly driving a salinity increase in lakes and putting all species living in them at risk, a recent study claims. According to this latest research, over 40% of the monitored lakes now contain more salt than at the beginning of the study.
The road salt that authorities use every winter to avoid ice-related accidents melts and seems to eventually find its way into lakes, among others.
However, the sodium chloride crystals it contains put at risks all species, including frogs and the microscopic zooplankton.
A paper with the study results was published in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of the Sciences (PNAS) and is focused on North American lakes. Even so, the salt levels of the monitored lakes were below the official EPA toxicity standards.
Still, many experts consider and agree that using salt on the roads could result in long-term consequences and bring harmful effects upon lakes.
“We are able to see in the winter time, that during high salt usage times, that the level of salt, or conductivity, in the water does increase particularly after snowmelt, or rainfall events,” says Professor Kevin Fermanich part of UW-Green Bay.
Other experts recommend turning or at least looking at alternatives to road salt. These include beet juice, beer, molasses, and cheese waste.
What is the Annual Usage of Road Salt
Road salt usage can reach up to 7,000 tons in the winter season, according to the City Public Works Department of Green Bay. Over 116,000 Americans are injured and 1,300 are killed every year due to snow or ice.
The use of salt reportedly reduces accidents by up to 88 percent, and minimizes injuries by almost 85 percent, Marquette University specialists say.
Jonathan Rubin, the director of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center in Maine, said that road salt doesn’t have a negative impact. The researcher also emphasized that this is also useful for road mobility.
Still, road salt can cause corrosion, which in turn affects roads, bridges, and cars. Therefore, experts recommend the usage of smaller quantities of salt which could help prevent environmental risks and further repairs.
Environmental engineers are not optimistic towards more expensive alternatives to salt, as they come with different risks.
Image Source: Wikimedia