The Environment Effects of Road Salt and Eco-Friendly Alternatives

How does Salt affect the Road?

Did that know that road salt has many negative environmental effects?

Road salt is used throughout the country by municipalities and property management companies to keep roadways and parking lots safe. However, road salt is not always the best thing for the asphalt or pavement that it’s being placed on. Beyond how it affects the pavement itself, it’s also important to consider the environmental ramifications of road salt.

Road Salt 101

Road salt is different from table salt or kosher salt that is on your dinner table every night. Instead, road salt can be made of any variety of chemicals and materials designed to prevent ice from forming and/or melt it once it’s there. Sometimes, trucks will actually spray salt in the form of a brine instead of as a solid material. De-icers and road salt typically work by decreasing the freezing point of water by introducing ions. It is often applied before, during, and after snow and ice storms depending on outdoor conditions.

How Does Road Salt Affect the Environment?

Road salt has a variety of effects on the environment, including:

  • Groundwater: Road salt will seep into groundwater and linger for a great deal of time. After a long period of time, this can have catastrophic effects on the surrounding area. In New Hampshire, the Department of Transportation had to replace over 400 private wells as a result of road salt.
  • Vegetation: Leaf damage and death are both very common along roadways as a result of road salt. The damage can also extend beyond the vegetation immediately next to the road.
  • Aquatic life: High levels of salt in ponds, lakes, or streams can form a layer of salt at the very bottom. This salt layer takes valuable nutrients away from the plants and animals that live in the water. High levels of salt can also harm any freshwater fish, amphibians, and invertebrates.
  • Mammals and birds: Saltwater can lead to salt toxicity in birds and mammals, which leads to illness and death.

How Can You Use an Eco-Friendly Alternative?

Thankfully, there are many different ways you can take care of your pavement or parking lot and the surrounding environment:

  • Use road salt sparingly and wisely. Instead of using more road salt, use the road salt that you have intelligently.
  • Shovel well and often instead of using higher amounts of de-icer.
  • Choose environmentally-friendly products like calcium magnesium acetate or sand instead of road salt.

Pavement Maintenance You Can Trust from PTG Enterprises

If you want to protect your pavement and ensure it has a long lifespan, choose PTG Enterprises for your sealcoating and asphalt needs. We offer commercial concrete, masonry, asphalt installation, repair, and paving throughout Baltimore, Harford, Anne Arundel, Howard, and P.G. Counties. If you are interested in hearing how we can help you, contact us online or give us a call at (410) 636-8777. For more tips and tricks, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, and Flickr.

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