Apr 6, 2021 11:24:19 AM / Brooke Loeffler /

Balancing Public Safety With Environmental Safety

Winter road management practices must constantly balance the safety of both the public and the environment. When ice and snow are not removed from road surfaces, the results can be catastrophic, even deadly for drivers. On the flip side, over applying harsh treatments to keep roads clear can harm the environment. Let's learn how to responsibly satisfy both needs.

Balancing Public Safety With Environmental Safety

Public and Environmental Safety Are Not At Odds

It is not necessary to prioritize one at the expense of the other. In fact, let's look at the ways both of these goals can complement each other and find common ground.

Common Ground

Reducing crashes protects both the public and the environment

Clearly vehicle crashes and pile ups harm public safety, but they are also extremely damaging to the environment.

multi vehicle pileup on an icy road

Crashes due to icy roads:

  • Leak toxic fluids and chemicals
  • Cause vehicular fires and wildfires
  • Disperse sharp and dangerous debris
  • Cause physical collisions with roadside vegetation and wildlife

Preserving our environment also improves public health and safety

Environmental pollution from winter road treatments can adversely affect public health in multiple ways:

  • Sand and gravel used for traction releases harmful particulate matter (PM) into the air we breathe
  • These same aggregates clog and degrade public watershed channels
  • Certain deicing ingredients can pollute waterways, cause toxic algae blooms, and kill off aquatic food sources
  • Over applying road treatments, and using the wrong treatments, can be harmful to animal life, soil and vegetation we need

How To Balance Public and Environmental Safety

Choose Road Treatments That Protect All 4 Environmental Categories

Environmentally safe vs public safety-02

  • Vegetation/Soil: treatments that reduce plant burn
  • Air Quality: treatments that don't increase PM levels
  • Water Health: soluble treatments that don't clog waterways increase biochemical oxygen demand
  • Wildlife: treatments that don't contain harmful toxins/dyes

Apply Road Treatments Responsibly

Snow fighters calibrating spreading equipment

Here are some best practices for protecting drivers without harming the environment:

  • Train personnel on appropriate application rates for products used
  • Pay close attention to weather alerts and local microclimates to get ahead of heavy snow accumulation
  • Apply appropriate light pretreatments to reduce ice bonding to paved surfaces
  • Calibrate equipment to ensure consistent application rates
  • Make purchase decisions based on value...not cost (looking at cost per lane mile or cost per storm will help you select products that perform better with less product)

Environment FAQs

Are environmentally safe deicing products less powerful?

It is all about the ingredients. All deicers work by lowering the freezing point of water. Some ingredients do that more efficiently than others. Before making large purchases of a deicing product, ask for sample sizes that you can try out in real world conditions first.

Are gravel or sand environmentally safe alternatives to deicers?

First off, aggregates like gravel, sand, and cat litter (for home use) are not deicers. They do not lower the freezing point of snow and ice. Plus, they increase PM air pollution, clog drainage, pollute waterways, and are costly to clean up each spring. Claims that sand and gravel are environmentally friendly alternatives are not considering public safety or all 4 categories of the environment.

Are agricultural byproducts (like beet juice and beet pulp) an environmentally safe ice melt ingredient?

Deicers using agricultural byproducts can be safer for roadside vegetation, but more harmful for waterway health. When these deicers runoff into local waterways, they provide a feast for water-born microorganisms. As they feast, they use up the dissolved oxygen in the water, killing off aquatic animals and allowing toxic algae to flourish. It is important to look at all 4 environmental categories.

Balanced Safety With Ice Slicer

Harvested from an ancient mineral deposit in central Utah, Ice Slicer’s natural high performance is the favorite of snow fighters all across the snow belt states. With a unique blend of chloride salts and over 60 naturally occurring trace minerals, Ice Slicer performs well with less product while protecting all 4 categories of the environment.

Ice Slicer protects drivers and the environment

Public Safety

Ice Slicer has many natural benefits that improve road safety:

  • Reduces accidents by restoring traction faster than white salt
  • Lasts longer on the road surface to reduce re-freezing
  • Covers more lane miles than white salt and salt/sand mixes (snow fighters can go longer before coming back to base to reload)
  • Natural red hue makes it easier to see where it has been applied

Environmental Safety

  • Vegetation/soil: Naturally contains 60+ trace minerals that buffer the effects of chlorides on the environment and deposit plant enriching nutrients back into the soil
  • Air Quality: Eliminates the need for dusty aggregates, helps reduce PM pollution in vulnerable areas
  • Waterway Health: Does not clog waterways, chlorides have the lowest impact on biochemical oxygen demand of all deicing ingredients
  • Wildlife: Contains no added chemicals or dyes

With Ice Slicer, it is possible to protect drivers and the environment. We are proud of Ice Slicer’s performance and environmentally friendly credentials. Give us a call today to try it for yourself!

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