Road salts should be banned

De-icing alternatives must be researched, used

Photo+illustration+by+Emma+Leff
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Road salts should be banned

Photo illustration by Emma Leff

Photo illustration by Emma Leff

Photo illustration by Emma Leff

Photo illustration by Emma Leff

Emma Leff

Every winter, approximately 365,000 tons of de-icing materials are dumped onto roads, driveways and sidewalks in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Although this improves traction on these surfaces, it puts the environment and pets at risk. The use of road salt needs to be stopped, and an alternative must be found to take its place.

Humans do not have the right to destroy the Earth in order to gain a short-term sense of comfort on the roads. It is selfish to value our immediate security over the long-term safety of our planet. Road salt can have detrimental consequences on soil, wildlife, surrounding water and pets, according to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. The chemicals in road salt are toxic to plants and to animals when ingested.

Once road salt is dumped onto roads, it’s easy to forget it was even there; however, just because we can’t see it anymore, does not mean it is safe for the planet. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, there is no natural way to decompose it. We cannot knowingly pollute our surroundings with harmful chemicals that will permanently scar the Earth. We should not act in such a short-sighted manner when our environment is at stake.

According to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Agency, ingestion of road salt, either directly or indirectly, can lead to numerous adverse health effects, including vomiting and death for pets. It is inhumane to expose animals to these kinds of chemicals for any reason, especially since pets are often treated like family members.

With all the extensive dangers associated with using road salt, an alternative must be used in its place. While the best thing for the environment would be to use nothing on the roads, that would sacrifice public safety, which is clearly not an option.

There are no alternative de-icing agents that can rival road salt’s combination of efficiency and affordability. This leaves cities and individual consumers stuck choosing between a product they have the financial means to pay for and a product that doesn’t hurt the environment or pets. No one should be forced to decide between safety and affordability.

More research needs to be done to find a truly environmentally-friendly, pet-safe and affordable de-icer. It is careless and foolish to use a chemical that has such widely known negative effects. While the use of road salt by itself will not destroy the Earth, all the little things will add up until it becomes too much for the environment to handle.

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