Road salt good for winter driving, bad for wells

Road salt good for winter driving, bad for wells

(HealthDay)—The salt that makes icy roads safe in winter may not be so good for your drinking water, researchers report.

After testing the of in ponds and streams in the Baltimore area, scientists found sodium () levels have been rising for the past few decades.

"Current stormwater management practices don't completely stop chemicals from reaching streams and we have seen chemical contamination year-round," said Joel Snodgrass, head of Virginia Tech's Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation.

This means that private wells in those areas can be contaminated, and they aren't the only water source at risk.

"Municipal water supplies may also become contaminated and require treatment to lower sodium and chloride levels before distribution," Snodgrass added in a Virginia Tech news release.

Excessive levels of salt in well water can make it unsafe for drinking. "People may end up containing that exceed those recommended for people on low-sodium diets," Snodgrass said.

The look and taste of the water can also be affected. Some local governments are taking steps to reimburse residents for the cost of replacing contaminated water wells.

In addition, salt-contaminated runoff can end up in streams where it can harm wildlife, the researchers reported.

"You're basically putting these animals in a desert, because they can't regulate the salt in their bodies and get enough water to balance it out," Snodgrass said. "If salt levels continue to increase in freshwater areas, many fish and amphibians will stop breeding and eventually die because their bodies cannot adjust to the change."

The findings were published recently in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.


Explore further

Stormwater retention ponds may not protect surface waters from road salt contamination

More information: The Association of State Drinking Water Administrators has more about road salt and groundwater.

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Citation: Road salt good for winter driving, bad for wells (2017, December 26) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-12-road-salt-good-winter-bad.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
1 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more