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Politics of Snow Removal: The Debate Over Salt and the Environment

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Did you know that even SNOW REMOVAL is involved in politics these days? Sometimes it is surprising the topics that get caught up in political debates… and this time it isn’t even because of something Donald Trump said! Weather has become increasingly linked to politics with concerns about climate change and our impact on it around the world. One area of snow removal sometimes discussed is the debate of salt and the environment.

Snow plowing and removal is important in our society. The EPA agrees by saying, “snow removal is essential both to public safety and to local and interstate commerce.” Deicing or "salt" usage is an essential component of snow removal. It is the responsible thing to do to remove ice from areas where it could harm people and by using a professional snow removal contractor, you can be certain it is safe for the environment too.

Salt (sodium chloride) is the most common way to deal with ice. It lowers waters freezing point, thus allowing ice to melt and be removed. According to The Environmental Literacy Council, salt, "was first used to control snow and ice on roadways to improve transportation safety in the 1930s". Salt began to be used in copious amounts. In the 1960’s, people began to notice corrosive and environmental effects of using salt to clear pavement. Not only was salt causing cars to "rust-out", it was also causing corrosive damage to bridges. People also began to notice its ill-effects on plants and wildlife, and on streams and lakes. Salt also attracts animals such as deer to roadsides (much like a salt-lick for cattle), which increases the risks of animal-vehicle accidents. In some places, it even began to effect drinking water (EPA).

Using Professional Ice Management Reduces Enviornmental Effects

Even with all the potential harm it can cause, salt (sodium chloride) is still the most effective method for deicing roads and walkways in northern states like Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. There are, however ways to effectively use salt while minimizing its effects on our vehicles and roads and especially on our environment. Much research has been done to find this balance. As people discovered in the 1960s, salt is not a “more is better” substance. There are optimum amounts that will gain the deicing results we need and prevent harmful results. Two of the most important factors are the storage of salt and how it is applied (EPA).

As you choose a professional snow removal company for this coming winter season, be sure they know the best methods for deicing and applications of salt. If your business is located in Illinois, consider contacting Brancato Snow and Ice Management for more information on snow removal, salting and our zero ice tolerance policy. Snow removal is our only business and we do it with excellence.