Get the Scoop on Salt
Chloride levels in northeastern Illinois rivers, lakes and wetlands have been on the rise for decades. This increase parallels the increase of roads and parking lots that have been built and the subsequent increase of salt applied to those surfaces. Chlorides cause damage to vehicles, infrastructure and the environment, particularly the health of our local waterways.
Where does the salt come from?
The True Cost of Salt
Besides the obvious cost of materials and labor required to salt streets in the winter, there are other costs to winter salt usage:
The only way to reduce the impact of salt on the environment is to
reduce the amount of salt we use. Salt does not breakdown or
degrade. Once it is in the water or the soil, it is very difficult and
expensive to remove.
Salt harms fish, particularly in early developmental stages like eggs and juveniles. Macroinvertebrates (the bugs that live in our waterways and provide food for fish), freshwater mussels and amphibians are also adversely impacted by salts.
It is a well-known fact that cars from the “snow-belt” rust out faster than cars from further south where the winters are warm. Salt corrodes metal on vehicles and bridges, causes concrete to “pit” and damages entryways in buildings.
On the landscape, we regularly see "salt burn" on plants, shrubs and trees along roadways and sidewalks. Salt spray from passing cars can damage vegetation well past the edge of the roadway. It is difficult to grow desirable plants in soil that has a high salt content.
Salt crystals and salty slush can adhere to pet’s feet and cause irritation, soreness and burning of the pads or skin. Salt can also be ingested when pets lick their paws, or drink water outside contaminated with salt. Excessive ingestion can lead to vomiting, diarrhea or unnaturally intense thirst. In extreme cases, pets can fall into a coma or even die from salt poisoning.