Environment: Of Salts and Safety

Almost every community in the northern U.S. uses de-icing salts to help clear snowbound roads. The use of salts is up 300% since 1960 (to 9,000.000 tons last year). Now these cheap and efficient deicers have been identified as an annoying source of pollution in at least 13 states.

The major problem with the massive use of de-icing salts—in addition to the havoc they wreak on automobile underbodies—is that they damage roadside vegetation and, more important, seep into nearby water supplies. The salts not only give the water a brackish taste, but can...

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