The snow removal industry plays a very important role in keeping people safe throughout the winter season; be it on roadways, driveways, walkways or parking lots.
Unfortunately, as with many other industries, there is an environmental impact to be considered as well.
Rock salt (NaCl) is by far the most commonly used de-icing product due to its relatively inexpensive cost and ease of application. Alternative de-icers can be prohibitively expensive, thereby reducing their use in most cases.
The use of rock salt, and other chloride-based products, can have a significant impact on the environment, especially when used carelessly or over-applied.
The components of the environment that salt can potentially harm include:
Road / rock salt has been entering the environment in large amounts and is posing a risk.
Managing salt use through reduced application rates, lower plow-depth thresholds and the use of liquid brines and “treated salt” can reduce salt’s impact dramatically.
By preventing / reducing the amount of salt that is lost to the environment through surface run-off, its negative impact can be limited, while still providing safe surfaces for pedestrians and vehicles. Being aware of the environmental impact of chloride use is just the beginning. Actions taken to reduce the amount of salt that gets into the environment are varied, such as:
MPS is actively engaged and using these strategies as part of our winter snow removal operational plan. Through education, best practices and technological innovation, we strive to reduce the negative impact of salt on the environment.
– Ken Jorgenson