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Road Salt Concerns Some Environmental Experts

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By Kavitha Cardoza

Road salt is good news for drivers because it means less icy roads. But some environmental experts are concerned about the effects that salt will have on our waterways. Road salt is mainly sodium chloride.

"But it also contains some impurities such as trace metals, it can contain anti-caking agents such as sodium nitro ferro cyanide," says Dr. Sujay Kaushal.

Kaushal is with the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science. He says when the snow melts, these chemicals trickle into storm drains and eventually end up in streams. Such increased levels of salt can harm aquatic life and surrounding vegetation as well as corrode plumbing infrastructure. And Kaushal says it eventually affects our drinking water.

"In Baltimore, we've seen a four fold increase in the chloride concentration over a 20-year period and so if the salinization keeps continuing at this current rate, it could pose a problem in the future," he says.

Kaushal says removing salt from drinking water is an expensive and difficult process.

Since Friday, D.C. has used more than 11,000 tons of road salt, Virginia has used at least 27,000 tons and Maryland just characterizes the amount used as, "a lot".


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