From: Kevin Mathews, Care2, More from this Affiliate
Published January 14, 2015 10:49 AM

Salting Roads takes a Toll on the Environment

The United States has a salt problem, and it extends well beyond the excessive sodium we consume in our diets. In the winter months, municipalities rely on dumping salt on the roads to minimize the effects of ice. Altogether, the U.S. uses ten times the amount of salt on roadways than it does in the processed foods we consume. While the salt may help to keep drivers safe, it does come at a cost:

1. It Increases Our Own Salt Consumption

You can throw salt down on roads, but you can’t force it to stay there. In due time, salt makes its ways into nearby waterways where it lingers. As a result, a lot of the water we wind up drinking has higher levels of salt than it would otherwise. Vox cites a study that finds 84% of city-adjacent streams have higher levels of chloride thanks specifically to these road-salting techniques. Apparently, during the months following salted roads, 29% of these streams have more salt than the federal “safety limits” for drinking water allow.

2. It Kills the Aquatic Life

If the salt eventually makes its way into our own systems via local bodies of water, you can bet the aquatic life living in these streams are impacted, too. The influx of salt tampers the circulation rates of ponds, decreases the oxygen flow to the bottom of lakes, and even messes with the nutrients available to the water’s creatures. A lot of fish, frogs, and the like’s bodies cannot withstand the amount of salt that shows up in the water suddenly and die as a result. Whole sections of waterways that experience increased salination experience what can best be described as a “die-off.”

3. It Puts Larger Animals in Danger, Too

Salt licks are a popular treat for large mammals, so you can imagine what kind of treat wintery roads turn into after they’ve been coated in salt. Suddenly, flavor-seeking deer and moose will leave the woods to have a nice long lick on busy roadways. Sadly, this snack is sometimes a fatal one for the animals since passing cars are much more likely to run into these animals when they’re hanging out specifically on the pavement. Plus, it’s not just the animals that lose their lives in these unfortunate collisions – given their size, they’ve been known to do a lot of damage to the vehicles that hit them – as well as the people riding inside.

Continue reading at ENN affiliate, Care2.

Salt truck image via Shutterstock.

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