ICE MELT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
This is the first article for my new blog “Gary’s Corner.” I plan to discuss any items that are of interest to our clients, vendors, associates, and anyone else who took the time to visit our website and happened upon this category. Hopefully, the blogs will be both concise and interesting.
Finally, winter seems to be done with us, but there are some lingering concerns over the effect of the ice melting chemicals upon our environment. The French Creek Conservatory is testing the creek for the salinity of the water and, perhaps, the impact of chlorides in snow and ice melters on French Creek. Salinity beyond a trace amount most certainly would indicate runoff from snow and ice that has melted. Making allowances for the test area, ie: mid-stream and nominally away from roads and bridges would be necessary, the test and results will be pretty straight forward; but what are we to do?
The use of chemicals to control the effects of weather has been utilized for a very, very long time. Can we, in conscience, limit their use and suffer possible disastrous outcomes by not making an attempt to mitigate the root cause of the problem. Most ice melters are basically sodium chloride with other chlorides blended in to the mix. Of course, calcium, magnesium, potassium are other chloride blends but the bulk of ice melting products in use are sodium because of the relative inexpensive cost or the product. If the salinity of water and environment is elevated, it’s reasonable to attempt to use other chloride based products as alternatives and thus mitigate the salinity problem. However, the other ice melting products have an effect on the environment as well. When misused, they all kill vegetation in and around the use areas and are extremely water soluble and can very well leach into soil and runoff into streams. Alternatives to chloride products have been ineffectual and unsustainable—beet by-products for example. There are no easy answers here, yet. We must not over use the products designed to make our transportation and walking safer but continually search for methods and alternatives to protect our precious environment.