The Furlong home is situated on the edge of our village – oops – market town. We are rural. And it has been known to snow big time here, and trap us in the valley.
But we are lucky that Gritters come through regularly to apply salt on our roads. Even so, in a big snow dump, we are screwed.
Mr Furlong grumbles about salt causing rust on his car. I haven’t seen any rust on our car and our car’s been coated. Mr Furlong hates pot holes even worse. Mr Furlong is inclined to grumble about such things.
But I have always wondered where the salt in the grit goes. Surely, constantly putting salt on the roads must DO something to the water table? Well apparently, it does.
“Unsurprisingly, it’s also a problem for the surrounding environment—so much that in 2004, Canada categorized road salt as a toxin and placed new guidelines on its use. And as more and more of the U.S. becomes urbanized and suburbanized, and as a greater number of roads criss-cross the landscape, the mounting piles of salt we dump on them may be getting to be a bigger problem than ever.
Road salt pollution is generally a bigger issue for the surrounding environment and the organisms that live in it. It’s estimated that chloride concentrations above 800 ppm are harmful to most freshwater aquatic organisms—because these high levels interfere with how animals regulate the uptake of salt into their bodies—and for short periods after a snow melt, wetlands nearby highways can surpass these levels. A range of studies has found that chloride from road salt can negatively impact the survival rates of crustaceans, amphibians such as salamanders and frogs, fish, plants and other organisms. There’s even some evidence that it could hasten invasions of non-native plant species—in one marsh by the Massachusetts Turnpike, a study found that it aided the spread of salt-tolerant invasives.
On a broader scale, elevated salt concentrations can reduce water circulation in lakes and ponds (because salt affects water’s density), preventing oxygen from reaching bottom layers of water. It can also interfere with a body of water’s natural chemistry, reducing the overall nutrient load. On a smaller scale, highly concentrated road salt can dehydrate and kill trees and plants growing next to roadways, creating desert conditions because the plants have so much more difficulty absorbing water. In some cases, dried salt crystals can attract deer and moose to busy roads, increasing their chance of becoming road kill.”
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-happens-to-all-the-salt-we-dump-on-the-roads-180948079/#ukIS6BU6s8wpKvUU.99