New Non-Salt Strategies for Snowy Cities

Winter brings snowy conditions to roads in many cities, and many react with snow-melting salt solutions. But the physical and environmental damage of salt is leading some to look for other means of fighting the freeze.
January 14, 2010, 6am PST | Nate Berg
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From soil erosion to car corrosion to drinking water pollution, salting roads has a variety of unintended consequences. Those negatives are leading some cities to look for newer (though often more expensive) solutions.

"Growing awareness of the many hazards that come with road salt has some municipalities making tough decisions. Salt is an affordable and highly effective method to prevent traffic accidents and keep the local economy from coming to a grinding halt in the event of a snowstorm. But its costs also include wildlife loss, soil erosion, road damage and contaminated freshwater supplies. Sand may seem a reasonable alternative to salt, but many communities have stopped using it because it clogs sewers, muddies waterways and is costly to clean up. There are safer, albeit pricier, alternatives that communities are trying out. On certain roads and bridges in West Virginia, calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) is used instead of salt because it is noncorrosive to metals and nondestructive to concrete and other highway materials. Another salt alternative is potassium acetate (KA), which is gentler on the environment and on road and highway materials."

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Published on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 in NRDC
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