The go-to solution for snowstorms in the US and around the world has been the fast acting, miracle working snow salt, which melts snow and ice instantly and clears the roads and pavements for the safety of vehicles and bystanders. Salt has been used for over 90 years in the US and its use has since tripled across the country as 20 million metric tonnes are poured over US roads every winter. However, despite the quick remedy to aid the danger of icy roads, it has shown an alarming impact on drinking water as it has contaminated freshwater resources and organisms. When the ice and snow melt, the melting salt along with that wash into freshwater systems which don’t filter out of the drinking tap, posing major health risks to those who consume it. A 2018 study conducted in New York revealed that the sodium concentrations that reached drinking wells were about 860 milligrams per liter – an alarming increase in comparison to the state recommended about which was about 270 milligrams per liter per person. The salt also corrodes the asphalt on roads which result to approximately $5 billion in annual repairs. The consequences of this substance can no longer be ignored as both people, infrastructures, and ecosystems are severely at risk. Alternative solutions are currently in the works which can mitigate the costs for repaving the corroded streets which can save up to $1.6 million annually, as well as leaving freshwater untouched and ecosystems to restore.
Photo by: Sotiris Gimitsas