- More than 20 million tons of salt are dumped on icy roads each year in the US.
- But salt is bad for the environment — when the snow melts, it washes the salt into rivers and lakes, destroying freshwater habitats.
- That’s why some cities are experimenting with adding organic materials like beet juice and pickle brine to road salt.
While salt helps keep your tires and feet from slipping on icy, snow-covered pavement, it’s bad for the environment.
More than 20 million tons of salt are dumped on icy roads throughout the US each year, according to The Associated Press. The problem, many researchers say, is that after cities put salt on roads, the snow and ice inevitably melt, and the salt gets washed into rivers and lakes, increasing the salinity to sometimes dangerous levels.
A study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) published this month found that increased salinity can catalyze the release of toxic metals into bodies of freshwater. The report concluded that many lakes and rivers in the Northeastern US would not be fit for human consumption and would actually become toxic to freshwater life within the next century if cities and freeway authorities continue to dump salt at the current rate.
That’s why some cities are turning to unique concoctions, adding things like beet juice, beer waste, and pickle brine to help salt stick to roads and sidewalks more effectively.
These types of liquefied organic additives both help the salt stick to the pavement better so that less washes into rivers and lakes, and also increase the capacity for the salt to melt ice. That means less salt is needed over the course of a winter.
So far, municipalities in New Jersey and Read More Here