Your Green Life: "Effects of Road Salt"

By KBJR News 1

January 17, 2013 Updated Jan 22, 2013 at 11:21 AM CDT

Salt, is not only a natural mineral, but also a natural ice melt on our roads. But this natural product does have its draw backs.

"The salt is damaging to our pavements and bridges." said Beth Petrowske at the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Excess salts can also be damaging to our natural environment.

Brett Amundson at Hartely Nature Center told me, "Road salts definitely have an impact. You're introducing a chemical into the environment that isn't there in the quantities that road salts tend to be in."

Higher salt levels in our waterways can have an adverse effect on the fish and the water ecosystems, but other animals are affected too.

"Road salt also impacts animals and birds in that it becomes a salt lick. A lot of other animals are attracted to that saltiness and so they end up going in roadways and get hit by cars more often than they would in the summer time." Said Amundson.

There is one other natural product that can be put on the roads to melt ice.

Petrowske said, "Some areas use beets, and mix it in with the salt, beat juice, especially in western Minnesota, where there is a great supply of beets."

Beet juice is a known ice melt, but it's not cost effective to ship the amount we would need to Duluth. So to prevent the salt from entering our ecosystems we had to specially design our roadways.

"We do design our roads to help if we can capture any runoff we don't want our runoff running into the lakes and streams and so, we design them so we have good drainage and holding ponds." said Petrowske.

Last year our area used over 2–hundred and fifty thousand gallons of Liquid Brine, almost 15 tons of sand, and almost 32–thousand tons of salt on our roads.

Meteorologist Adam Lorch