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Alternative to Salt for Snow: How to protect the environment, pets and kids

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States across the Snow Belt in the United States apply 17 million tons of deicing salt yearly onto roadways to combat the dangers of snow, ice, and slush. Anyone living in a cold weather climate is familiar with massive plow trucks dumping salt on icy roadways to keep them open. Adding salt to roadways not only protects commerce and keeps the economy on track, but can also mean the difference between life and death.

It is estimated that a one-day major weather event in the winter can result in $300 to $700 million in direct and indirect costs, including loss productivity and commerce. Additionally, more than 116,000 Americans are injured and 1,300 killed on icy roadways each year. The need for ice melters is clear, but what about its impact on the environment as it is dumped by the ton across the country each winter?

Dangers Of Salt

Salt is the go-to tool when it comes to combating icy, snowy roads across the country. However, that salt doesn’t just stick to roads and melt ice. It spreads to the surrounding area and contaminates soil, water, and harms numerous species of animals. Salt contributes to soil and environment degradation in the surrounding area. When it soaks into the soil, or runs-off the road with melting snow and ice, it leeches into water supplies and contaminates the drinking water you and your children rely upon.

Harm To Animals

As for the animals in the surrounding areas, salt can inadvertently be consumed and lead to sickness and even death. Although most people don’t think about it, salt is even dangerous to the roadways themselves leading to corrosion on bridges, concrete cracks, and other infrastructure.

Environmental Solutions

The most obvious solution to avoiding these issues is to stop using road salt in deicing operations. A number of municipalities across the country are experimenting with alternatives, such as a cheese brine mixture (combination of rock salt and liquid cheese brine) used in Milwaukee and even beet juice in other areas. Better solutions are materials such as Safe Paw ice melter that is environmentally friendly along with being safe for pets and kids.

Until a cost-effective and efficient replacement for road salt is put into wider use, it falls upon the individual to protect themselves, their families, and pets from the negative effects road salt. The two biggest threats to humans and pets are contaminated water and direct ingestion of salt. You can combat these threats by:

  • Invest in a filter pitcher for use with drinking water
  • Purchase bottled water to store in the house
  • Keep a close eye on your pet when outdoors
  • Sweep up excess salt on your property to avoid accidental ingestion by household pets and local wildlife

Keeping roadways clear in the midst of major winter storms is a balancing act between what is best for the environment and what is in the best interest of public safety. Following the simple steps above, you can keep your family members safe from the biggest threats salt poses.