Environment Salt from icy roads is contaminating North America’s lakes

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  1. tom_mai78101

    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    In the 1940s, Americans found a new way to love salt. Not simply for sprinkling on food — we’d acquired a taste for the mineral long before that — but for spreading on roads and sidewalks. Salt became a go-to method to de-ice frozen pavement.

    During the past half-century, annual U.S. sales of road salt grew from 160,000 tons to about 20 million tons, as a group of environmental scientists pointed out in a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of the Sciences.

    NaCl kept roads free from slippery ice, but it also changed the nature of North America's freshwater lakes. Of 371 lakes reviewed in the new study, 44 percent showed signs of long-term salinization.

    Extrapolating that finding for all of North America, at least 7,770 lakes are at risk of elevated salt levels — a likely underestimate, the researchers said.

    Theirs is the first study of freshwater lakes on a continental scope. “No one has tried to understand the scale of this problem across the continent in the Northeast and Midwest, where people apply road salt,” said study co-author Hilary Dugan, a University of Wisconsin-Madison freshwater expert.


    Read more here. (Washington Post)
     

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