Victoria Bedford, Mehak Anwar, Virginia Vincent A Salty Scandal: Preliminary Research Summary:
After all of the research that we gathered about the salt used to control the snow, we learned that the salt is extremely damaging to the organisms around it. The salt not only eats away at the unwanted snow, but it is also eating away at our aquatic organisms such as crustaceans, amphibians such as salamanders and frogs. The over exposure to road salt increases the salt within these organisms uncontrollably. Studies have shown that elevated salt concentrations can have a horrid effect on the lakes and rivers as well [preventing oxygen from reaching bottom layers of water(http://www.lakesuperiorstreams.org/understanding/impact_salt_2.html) , ultimately interfering with a body of water's natural chemistry. It is known that highly concentrated salt can remain alongside the roads well after the snow is gone can continuously cause drought like conditions, killing plants that normally grown along the roads.
The main companies that spread road salt for the New England Area are , The Eastern Salt Company in Lowell Ma and Gallo Construction. It was interesting to find out that about 10 million tons of salt, according to Rutgers University Professor Robert Chant , is right now floating around the Boston Harbor but shocking numbers like this don't really affect the salinity of the water Chant says. Sources from an article on City Lab says differently. Environmental Professor, Mi-Hyun Park says that there is much to be concerned about than salinity levels. “ "It's not going to be good, because you're going to directly increase pollution into the harbor," she says. "Snow can pick up pollution from the air in addition to the oil and deicing agents it can pick up from the road.” With so much concern with road salt, A number of groups have been established in efforts of saving the water quality of our rivers and lakes. Groups such as Charles River Watershed Association, Mystic River Watershed Association, and Boston Harbor Watershed Association are trying to clean the water and keep it clean by monthly and yearly assessments and tests to consistently check the quality.
The primary salting companies within Massachusetts are Eastern Salt Company located in Lowell Ma and Gallo Construction located in Taunton Ma. A study on road salt stuck out to us, Maryland Department of Environment suggest that road salt is contributing to long term salinization of streams in the Northeastern United States as evidenced by the fish, mussels, and amphibians that respond negatively to the elevated chlorine. Road salt is primarily sodium chloride and about 20 million tons of it are dumped on the streets every winter, which is significantly more than the 0.25 grams per liter it takes to harm freshwater life. In addition to affecting marine life,road salt affects water quality; namely, quality of drinking water.
Keeping this information in mind, we thought we would gain information for our data by giving our Coqui Sensors out to residents in our designated areas , who want to participate in a survey by answering 2 questions:
How is the increase of salt in our water systems impacting your life What were the results of using the sensor
We also learned while researching that many states are trying new methods of melting ice to be more considerate of the environment. New ideas for melting ice have been cheese brine, juices from beets, pickles and even potatoes. Other ideas that have been brought to the forefront is volcanic rock and a very far fetched idea of solar powered roads. With all of these new innovations and constant testing of the water supply It will be interesting to see what the outcome of our data sets will reveal.
Preliminary Questions for Patrick: What constitutes “too much” salt? And how do we find that? How is the salt in the water affecting aquatic life, the physical environment, and our health? What kind of sensor will we use to measure levels of salt in the streams and rivers? What benefits and downfalls of this sensor do we have to keep in mind? What problems have you encountered with the coqui sensor? What are some variables that might impede accurate measurement of salt in the water?.