Salt Institute http://www.saltinstitute.org Salt Institute Tue, 07 Aug 2018 19:31:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 The 4 greatest salt myths http://www.saltinstitute.org/2018/07/30/4-greatest-salt-myths/ http://www.saltinstitute.org/2018/07/30/4-greatest-salt-myths/#respond Mon, 30 Jul 2018 15:36:14 +0000 http://www.saltinstitute.org/?p=3201 Salt is everywhere, it seems. It is on our tables, in many of our favorite foods and even in life-saving hospital infusions. After more than a century of debate over the role of salt in human health, the overwhelming medical evidence makes it clear that reducing salt in the U.S. diet may pose a greater […]

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Salt is everywhere, it seems. It is on our tables, in many of our favorite foods and even in life-saving hospital infusions.

After more than a century of debate over the role of salt in human health, the overwhelming medical evidence makes it clear that reducing salt in the U.S. diet may pose a greater risk to many consumers. Consider these four common myths about salt:

Myth 1: Americans eat more salt than ever

Military records from the early 1800s up to WWII show that the average soldier was consuming between 6,000 and 6,800 mg/day of sodium. We eat about half of that today, and that number has remained consistent since WWII. The advent of refrigeration meant that we could preserve food with less salt, but salt remains a critical ingredient for myriad other functions.

Myth 2: Salt consumption leads to hypertension

According to Dr. Jan Staessen, head of the Research Unit on Hypertension at the University of Leuven in Belgium, “The evidence relating blood pressure to salt intake does not translate into an increased risk of incident hypertension in people consuming a usual salt diet.”

Myth 3: Americans could massively reduce their salt consumption without any negative health consequences

Dr. Andrew Mente, of McMaster University in Canada, and his team conducted the largest ever epidemiologic study of the impact of sodium intake on blood pressure, cardiovascular disease risk and mortality. “We found that regardless of whether people have high blood pressure, low-sodium intake is related to more heart attacks, strokes and deaths compared to average intake,” he said.

Myth 4: The U.S. population would gain significant health benefits from major population-wide salt reduction

The FDA recommends a maximum daily limit of 2,300 mg of sodium per day and a maximum of 1,500 mg for people with certain conditions. Salt is 40 percent sodium. According to Dr. Michael H. Alderman of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, “Sodium consumption around the globe has a mean of about 3,600 mg/day, and a range from 2,600–5,000 mg/day. This mid-range describes about 90 percent of the world’s population. … Optimal survival is realized by those whose intake is between 2,800 and 5,000 mg/day. Specifically, there is no evidence of a superior health outcome at intakes less than 2,000 mg/day compared with those in the usual range.”

Salt is essential for life. In fact, no mineral is more essential to human survival than sodium because it allows nerves to send and receive electrical impulses, helps your muscles stay strong and keeps your cells and brain functioning. However, sodium chloride (salt) is a nutrient that the body cannot produce, and therefore it must be consumed. The average American eats about 3,400 mg per day of sodium, according to The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, right in the middle of the healthy range.

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Fortified salt improves lives http://www.saltinstitute.org/2018/06/28/fortified-salt-improves-lives/ http://www.saltinstitute.org/2018/06/28/fortified-salt-improves-lives/#respond Thu, 28 Jun 2018 20:33:15 +0000 http://www.saltinstitute.org/?p=3195 Haiti has among the highest rates of elephantiasis (lymphatic filariasis), which attacks the lymphatic system, leading to abnormal enlargement of body parts, disfigurement, pain, disability and social ostracism. The World Health Organization estimates that 856.4 million people in 53 countries remain threatened by elephantiasis. The Haitian population also suffers from widespread iodine deficiency. The Haitian […]

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Haiti has among the highest rates of elephantiasis (lymphatic filariasis), which attacks the lymphatic system, leading to abnormal enlargement of body parts, disfigurement, pain, disability and social ostracism. The World Health Organization estimates that 856.4 million people in 53 countries remain threatened by elephantiasis. The Haitian population also suffers from widespread iodine deficiency. The Haitian Ministry of Health has established a goal to completely eradicate elephantiasis and iodine deficiency disorders in Haiti by 2020. Fortunately, there is a simple cure for these conditions: salt fortified with iodine and diethylcarbamazine citrate (DEC).

Iodine is an essential element for healthy human life, enabling the function of thyroid glands to produce needed hormones for proper metabolism. When children in the womb don’t get enough iodine from their mother, fetal brain development is impaired. During pregnancy, iodine deficiency can cause a child to develop learning and intellectual disabilities as well as developmental problems affecting speech, hearing and growth.

“Iodine deficiency disorder (IDD) is the single greatest cause of preventable mental retardation,” says Kul Gautam, the former deputy executive director of UNICEF. “Severe deficiencies cause cretinism, stillbirth and miscarriage. But even mild deficiency can significantly affect the learning ability of populations. Scientific evidence shows alarming effects of IDD. Even a moderate deficiency, especially in pregnant women and infants, lowers their intelligence by 10-15 IQ points.”

Kiwanis International, a worldwide service organization in more than 82 nations and geographic areas, partnered with UNICEF in a global effort to eliminate iodine deficiency disorders (IDD). In just 10 years, starting in 1990, the percentage of the world population consuming iodized salt went from 20 percent to 70 percent. Kiwanis ultimately provided nearly $105 million to protect children from preventable mental and physical disabilities.

“There is no reward greater in life than helping children, and seeing them live healthy, vibrant lives. Our clubs and members understand the importance of helping children in their communities, and in communities around the world, and have proudly contributed to protecting more than 80 million children from the devastating effects of iodine deficiency,” said Stan D. Soderstrom, executive director of Kiwanis International, during a Kiwanis sponsored presentation at the 2018 World Salt Symposium in Park City, Utah.

Iodine deficiency was a problem in the United States as well, until American salt producers started adding iodine to table salt more than a century ago. Today, about 70 percent of the table salt sold in the United States is iodized. In fact, salt has been and remains the primary source for iodine in the American diet. The effect of this public health initiative has been to virtually eliminate the incidence of thyroid related illness, including goiters. “Iodized salt has been one of the greatest and most economical public health successes and it continues to help raise healthy, smart children,” said Lori Roman, President of the Salt Institute, which hosted the 2018 World Salt Symposium.

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Are you eating too much salt, or not enough? http://www.saltinstitute.org/2018/04/17/eating-much-salt-not-enough/ http://www.saltinstitute.org/2018/04/17/eating-much-salt-not-enough/#respond Tue, 17 Apr 2018 15:41:32 +0000 http://www.saltinstitute.org/?p=3187 New York City already mandates it and now Philadelphia is considering it. “It” is salt warnings on menu labels for any item considered too high in salt. The average American eats about 3,400 mg./day of sodium and recent studies indicate that’s just about the right amount. Regardless, the federal government continues to recommend that people […]

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New York City already mandates it and now Philadelphia is considering it. “It” is salt warnings on menu labels for any item considered too high in salt. The average American eats about 3,400 mg./day of sodium and recent studies indicate that’s just about the right amount. Regardless, the federal government continues to recommend that people eat a maximum of between 1,500 and 2,400 mg./day of sodium. Yet, there is almost no population on earth that consumes this little salt.

A 2014 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tested sodium consumption in more than 100,000 people in 18 countries. The study found that the healthy range for salt consumption was between 3,000 and 5,000 mg./day. The amount of salt Americans eat per day is on the low end of this range. Consuming insufficient amounts of salt can lead to the development of insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular failure, dehydration, unsteadiness, loss of cognition and death.

Dr. Michael Alderman and Dr. Hillel Cohen of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine reviewed 23 observational studies covering some 360,000 individuals and published their comprehensive results in the July 2012 edition of the American Journal of Hypertension. They also found that both the very low and very high levels of salt consumption negatively affected health, but in between those extremes, a very broad safe range of salt consumption resulted in optimum health.

The federal government is pushing food manufacturers to change their recipes to reduce their sodium content. This will change the taste and texture of many foods made in the U.S. and may place us at greater risk. Bread, cheese and processed meats can’t be made without salt. Salt acts as an essential preservative and drastically lowering the salt content of processed meats significantly increases the likelihood of bacterial growth.

We are led to believe that we are eating more salt than ever before, but this is also false. Military records from the early 1800s up to WWII, and before the widespread advent of refrigeration, show that the average soldier was consuming between 6,000 and 6,800 mg./day of sodium. We eat about half of that today and that number has remained consistent since WWII. The advent of refrigeration meant that we could preserve food with less salt, but salt remains a critical ingredient.

Another myth we often hear is that most of our salt intake comes from processed foods and eating out. This is why government agencies are pressuring restaurants and food manufacturers to adjust their recipes or print salt warnings. In fact, every single population throughout the world, regardless of location, state of development, culture and cuisine, ingests a similar amount of salt when compared to the U.S. average. It doesn’t matter if people get their salt from packaged or restaurant foods or add it in themselves in home-cooked meals, the amount stays constant.

Dr. Alderman, who is also the editor of the American Journal of Hypertension and former president of the American Society of Hypertension, has repeatedly cited his concern that a population-wide sodium reduction campaign could have unintended consequences. “They want to do an experiment on a whole population without a good control.” More research is needed on total health outcomes before taking such a drastic step.

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Hard water proves hard on your wallet http://www.saltinstitute.org/2018/04/16/hard-water-proves-hard-wallet/ http://www.saltinstitute.org/2018/04/16/hard-water-proves-hard-wallet/#respond Mon, 16 Apr 2018 19:40:29 +0000 http://www.saltinstitute.org/?p=3184 Hard water, which contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, can be found in nearly 90 percent of American homes. These minerals cause scaling, a buildup that clogs waterlines and plumbing forcing appliances to work harder and operate less efficiently. The scale may also harbor bacteria. The only way to truly remove the hard and […]

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Hard water, which contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, can be found in nearly 90 percent of American homes. These minerals cause scaling, a buildup that clogs waterlines and plumbing forcing appliances to work harder and operate less efficiently. The scale may also harbor bacteria. The only way to truly remove the hard and soft scale from household water systems is with salt-based water softeners.

The environmental and cost benefits of salt-based water softening are significant. Hard water scaling can cause your showerhead to lose up to 75 percent of its flow rate in just 18 months. Hard water also interacts negatively with soap, reducing its cleaning power. Soft water is up to 12 times more effective at cleaning dishes than increasing the amount of detergent used.

According to the Water Quality Research Foundation for washing machines, the most important factor in removing stains from clothing was water softness. Reduction of water hardness was up to 100 times more effective at stain removal than increasing the detergent dose or washing with hotter water. In fact, soft water can reduce soap use by as much as half. Hard water can also reduce the efficiency of water heaters and increase electricity costs by as much as 48 percent, according to the Battelle Memorial Institute.

Hard water scaling doesn’t just harm your appliances and wallet, it can harm your health as well. The piping used in home plumbing, whether it is copper or PVC, has very smooth interior surfaces that don’t permit bacteria to settle and grow. However, hard water results in scale formation on the interior surfaces of those pipes and that provides a perfect home for bacteria.

Researchers at the School of Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University found bacteria may grow in pipes filled with both hard scale and soft scale at the same rate. This is important new information because some forms of water conditioning produce this soft scale. The only solution is to remove both hard and soft scale in the pipes with a salt-based water softener.

Hard water you use to wash your fresh fruits and vegetables may actually contain more bacteria, and the problem isn’t only in the kitchen. When you take a hot shower the steam you are inhaling can also contain the same microbial contamination that is in the rest of your plumbing, exposing you to bacteria such as Legionella, which can cause Legionnaire’s disease.

A salt-based water softener is the most functional and cost-effective means of removing hardness minerals. It is a time-tested, highly reliable tool to improve health and to lower maintenance costs for home appliances like dishwashers and washing machine. It also reduces the need for detergents and high-water temperatures, leading to a smaller household carbon footprint.

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Celebrate World Salt Awareness Week http://www.saltinstitute.org/2018/03/01/celebrate-world-salt-awareness-week/ http://www.saltinstitute.org/2018/03/01/celebrate-world-salt-awareness-week/#respond Thu, 01 Mar 2018 21:08:13 +0000 http://www.saltinstitute.org/?p=3166 World Salt Awareness Week is being celebrated this year from March 12 to 18 and is the perfect opportunity to recognize all the many benefits of salt. Salt, or sodium chloride, is essential for life. In fact, no mineral is more essential to human survival than sodium because it allows nerves to send and receive […]

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World Salt Awareness Week is being celebrated this year from March 12 to 18 and is the perfect opportunity to recognize all the many benefits of salt. Salt, or sodium chloride, is essential for life. In fact, no mineral is more essential to human survival than sodium because it allows nerves to send and receive electrical impulses, helps your muscles stay strong and keeps your cells and brain functioning. However, sodium chloride (salt) is a nutrient that the body cannot produce, and therefore it must be consumed.

The other component of salt, chloride, is also essential to survival and good health. It preserves acid-base balance in the body, aids potassium absorption, improves the ability of the blood to move harmful carbon dioxide from tissues out to the lungs and most importantly, supplies the crucial stomach acids required to break down and digest the foods we eat.

Because the level of salt consumption is so stable, it is an ideal medium to fortify with other essential nutrients such as iodine. Iodized salt was first produced in the U.S. in 1924 and is now used by 75 percent of the world’s population to protect against intellectual disability due to Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD). Iodine is an essential element in healthy human life, enabling the function of thyroid glands to produce needed hormones for proper metabolism. When children in the womb don’t get enough iodine from their mother, fetal brain development may be impaired. Iodized salt remains one of the greatest public health success stories.

Salt is also essential in hospital IV saline, which is standard therapy and the fastest way to deliver fluids and medications throughout the body. This saline drip doesn’t just keep patients hydrated, it delivers a 0.9 percent solution of salt. Without this saline drip, patients can end up with low levels of sodium in the blood, resulting in a condition known as hyponatremia. This serious condition can lead to seizures, coma, permanent brain damage, respiratory arrest and death, and it is why the shortage of saline in hospitals is of such critical importance.

Salt is also a vital component of hydration. After exercise, it is critical to replace both water and salt lost through perspiration. That is why all athletes make sure they are consuming sufficient salt during and after a workout.

The average American eats about 3,400 mg per day of sodium, according to The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and this may be on the low side of the safe range. A 2014 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tested sodium consumption in more than 100,000 people in 18 countries. The study found that the healthy range for sodium consumption was between 3,000 and 5,000 mg per day.

Seniors can be especially susceptible to the dangers of low-salt diets. In 2013 a task force of 12 professional medical, nursing and nutritional organizations assembled by the Pioneer Network published the “New Dining Practice Standards.” Their report concluded that low-salt diets were contributing to malnutrition and weight loss among a significant percentage of seniors in assisted living facilities. Low-salt diets can also cause seniors to suffer from mild hyponatremia, an electrolyte imbalance in the blood that can lead directly to walking impairment, attention deficits and a much higher frequency of falls.

Salt is the flavor of life, and this year we should all recognize its many benefits while we celebrate World Salt Awareness Week. To learn more visit www.worldsaltawarenessweek.org.

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Clear winter roads: What works and what doesn’t http://www.saltinstitute.org/2018/01/26/clear-winter-roads-works-doesnt/ http://www.saltinstitute.org/2018/01/26/clear-winter-roads-works-doesnt/#respond Fri, 26 Jan 2018 17:25:32 +0000 http://www.saltinstitute.org/?p=3154 It is no surprise that in the winter we see many articles about how our roads get plowed and treated. Nor is it particularly surprising that winter maintenance practices often lead to debates over different methods and materials used to keep roads clear. One often-heard rebuke is that road authorities should go back to using […]

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It is no surprise that in the winter we see many articles about how our roads get plowed and treated. Nor is it particularly surprising that winter maintenance practices often lead to debates over different methods and materials used to keep roads clear. One often-heard rebuke is that road authorities should go back to using sand or abrasives for winter maintenance, instead of using salt. Unfortunately, that would be very counterproductive for many reasons.

Sand alone does not melt any snow or ice. Any time melting has been associated with sand, it is because a small amount of salt (about 10 percent or less) is typically included in the stockpile to stop the sand from freezing solid. It is sometimes said that some melting occurs because the color of the sand creates excess solar heating, but that is minimal compared to the normal solar heating occurring on roads anyway.

This matters because we need roads to be free of snow and ice in the winter. A study by Global Insights indicated that when roads are impassable because of snow or ice, a state can lose between $300 million and $700 million in economic activity per day. A study from Marquette University has shown that a safe and sustainable snowfighting program that uses road salt in an appropriate manner will reduce accidents by up to 88 percent.

Sand does provide a temporary increase in friction. However, to supply that increase in friction, it has to be located between the tires of the vehicles on the road and the snow or ice on the road. But the sand does not stay where it is needed for very long, especially at highway speeds. Studies have found that the friction increase due to sand disappears after 10 to 20 vehicles have driven over it at highway speeds. So the benefits of sand in terms of increasing friction are very fleeting in high-speed and high-traffic situations.

In addition, to get the friction benefits of sand, it has to be applied at much higher rates than salt. This means that trucks must be refilled more often, and when a truck is in the yard being refilled, it is not out on the road system plowing and applying materials appropriately.

Some believe that there is no environmental impact from the use of sand, but this is not the case. When abrasives like sand settle in river beds, they choke off access of aquatic species’ eggs to oxygen, thus reducing their value as spawning grounds, potentially putting the breeding of certain fish species at risk. The other danger is to air quality. As cars drive over the sand and other abrasives, these get ground up and become dust. Both the city of Denver, Colorado, and Washoe County, Nevada, where air pollution is a particular concern, require that any abrasives used be vacuumed up no more than 72 hours after the end of the storm. This cleanup adds significantly to the cost of using abrasives.

When properly applied at the right place, at the right time and in the right amount, road salt is the single most effective, economic and environmental way to keep our roads passable and people safe in the winter.

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Salt Institute Brochure http://www.saltinstitute.org/2017/12/12/salt-institute-brochure/ http://www.saltinstitute.org/2017/12/12/salt-institute-brochure/#respond Tue, 12 Dec 2017 20:54:13 +0000 http://www.saltinstitute.org/?p=3135 Get all the latest fact and information about the many benefits of salt in this handy brochure. Everything’s Better With A Little Salt

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Get all the latest fact and information about the many benefits of salt in this handy brochure.

Everything’s Better With A Little Salt

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Clear winter roads keep us safe and the economy humming http://www.saltinstitute.org/2017/11/21/clear-winter-roads-keep-us-safe-economy-humming/ http://www.saltinstitute.org/2017/11/21/clear-winter-roads-keep-us-safe-economy-humming/#respond Tue, 21 Nov 2017 18:47:30 +0000 http://www.saltinstitute.org/?p=3125 Across the U.S., more than 70 percent of the population lives in areas affected by snow and ice. Each winter the average driver in these areas will see more than 5 inches of snow on the roads. And when the snow is falling there are few things more comforting than the sight of snowplows and […]

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Across the U.S., more than 70 percent of the population lives in areas affected by snow and ice. Each winter the average driver in these areas will see more than 5 inches of snow on the roads. And when the snow is falling there are few things more comforting than the sight of snowplows and salt trucks making highways safe for commuters, shoppers and travelers.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, snowy, slushy or icy pavement accounts for more than 116,000 Americans injured and over 1,300 killed each year. In fact, 24 percent of all weather-related vehicle crashes occur under such wintry conditions. A study by Marquette University found that effective use of road salt reduced vehicle crashes by 88 percent, injuries by 85 percent and the cost of accidents by 85 percent.

In the Snow Belt, citizens expect roads to always be cleared of snow and ice, no matter how bad the storm, says Bret Hodne, public works director for West Des Moines, Iowa. To help meet those sky-high expectations, Hodne orders salt months before the first snowflake falls. His motto is “don’t trust your climate” because if you plan for an average season, it’s bound to be a record-setting winter of snow and ice.

Salt was first used in the 1930s for snow and ice control, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that salt became widely adopted by snowfighters as one of the major weapons to keep winter roads safe. In an average Iowa winter, Hodne’s department alone uses 4,000 tons of salt and keeps twice that amount in storage. Salt works by lowering the freezing point of water and when applied on already frozen roadways (deicing) it helps to melt the ice. When salt is applied before a freeze sets in (anti-icing) it helps prevent liquid water from becoming ice. This is why drivers will often see salt trucks out and about before the roads start to freeze.

Both methods give tires more traction with the pavement, keeping roads open and safe while protecting lives and commerce. How quickly salt melts frozen water is dependent upon a number of variables, including temperature, time and the rate of application. Fortunately, it is usually not necessary to melt all the snow and ice on a road. Merely destroying or preventing the bond between pavement and frozen water is a more efficient, economical and environmentally sensitive approach. In fact, salt is the single most effective and economical method for treating roadways.

In addition to enhancing the safety of our roads in winter conditions, those snowplows are doing a lot to improve mobility. Snowfighters reduce weather-caused delays and congestion, allowing for emergency vehicles to respond more quickly when people need help, making for shorter travel times for families, allowing kids and parents to get to school and jobs safely and on time.

In fact, a study by IHS Global Insight for the American Highway Users Alliance found that snow- and ice-related delays and shutdowns hurt hourly workers the most. This study also placed a monetary value on fast and effective snow removal and salting. According to the researchers, a state can incur economic losses of between $300 million and $700 million every day that roads are closed and impassable. So, those snowplows are not just helping keep families together and safe, they are helping to keep the lifeblood of our commerce pumping during winter storms — a thing for which we can all be thankful!

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Homeowners liable for snow and ice control http://www.saltinstitute.org/2017/11/21/homeowners-liable-snow-ice-control/ http://www.saltinstitute.org/2017/11/21/homeowners-liable-snow-ice-control/#respond Tue, 21 Nov 2017 18:46:00 +0000 http://www.saltinstitute.org/?p=3121   Whenever it snows, it is common to see shopping center employees and business owners out and about clearing pathways, parking spaces and entrances of snow and ice. But this isn’t just good business to help customers get in the door, it is also a liability issue should someone slip, fall and injure themselves. Homeowners, […]

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Whenever it snows, it is common to see shopping center employees and business owners out and about clearing pathways, parking spaces and entrances of snow and ice. But this isn’t just good business to help customers get in the door, it is also a liability issue should someone slip, fall and injure themselves. Homeowners, too, face similar, albeit more limited, liability if they fail to take adequate steps to remove such slippery hazards from their property.

Generally speaking, homeowners are responsible for limiting dangers on their property, but in some cases this can also extend to public sidewalks abutting the home. In some localities, Homeowners Associations (HOAs), and governments also require that homeowners clear snow and ice or face fines. A regional survey of county and municipal ordinances conducted by the Salt Institute found that 83 percent have written policies directing property owners to remove accumulated snow and ice “within 24 hours of the end of the snowstorm.” Penalties for property owners not complying can range from nominal tickets to misdemeanors punishable by up to 90 days in jail and fines of up to $500.

Shoveling snow is simple enough, but ice is another matter, and nothing works better to remove ice or prevent ice from forming than salt. Salt lowers water’s freezing point, the temperature at which it changes from a liquid to a solid and vice versa. Melting water that is already frozen is called deicing and is applied once ice appears. Preventing water from freezing in the first place is called anti-icing and is applied when a freeze is expected.

Commercially available anti-icing materials include salt (sodium chloride), calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium acetate and calcium magnesium acetate. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but salt brine remains the best choice for anti-icing in temperatures above 15 degrees F (minus 9.4 degrees C) and continues to work in temperatures as low as minus 6 degrees F. For extremely low temperatures, look for a mixture using calcium or magnesium chloride instead.

Laws regarding snow and ice clearing vary by state and locality, but most mandate that some action be taken within a reasonable time period after it stops snowing. For example, the Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act states that any owner who “removes or attempts to remove snow or ice from sidewalks abutting the property shall not be liable for any personal injuries allegedly caused by the snowy or icy condition of the sidewalk resulting from his or her acts or omissions unless the alleged misconduct was willful or wanton.”

The dangers from slips and falls should not be taken lightly, especially for the elderly. Each year thousands are rushed to emergency rooms as a result of icy falls with injuries that could have easily been prevented. One enterprising hospital, St. Vincent’s in Indianapolis, Indiana, even decided to give away road salt to local residents one winter to try and prevent such injuries and the resulting emergency room visits. In the end, the person who is most likely to slip and fall is the homeowner themselves.

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Road salt means safe roads http://www.saltinstitute.org/2017/10/05/road-salt-means-safe-roads/ http://www.saltinstitute.org/2017/10/05/road-salt-means-safe-roads/#respond Thu, 05 Oct 2017 20:49:29 +0000 http://www.saltinstitute.org/?p=3108 State and municipal departments of transportation are gearing up their winter maintenance plans to prepare for snow and ice. In addition to plows, road salt is an important tool to keep roads clear. Every year these agencies stockpile sufficient salt to last the winter season and store it in strategically placed barns. “Snowfighters” (those responsible […]

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State and municipal departments of transportation are gearing up their winter maintenance plans to prepare for snow and ice. In addition to plows, road salt is an important tool to keep roads clear. Every year these agencies stockpile sufficient salt to last the winter season and store it in strategically placed barns.

“Snowfighters” (those responsible to clear snow from roadways) are out in force in salt trucks before snow and ice is expected. They pretreat the roads with salt brine, a mix of road salt and water. This brine sticks to the road surface and helps prevent ice from forming in the first place, making winter travel safer. And the safety issue is a substantial one. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation show that there are about 115,000 people injured every year on snowy, slushy or icy pavements and more than 1,600 people killed each year on winter roads.

The good news is that a Marquette University study showed that a good winter maintenance program that uses road salt reduces accidents on winter roads by about 88 percent and can reduce injuries by up to 85 percent.

A key goal for many agencies is tracking their winter maintenance actions in great detail and ensuring that their actions are optimized to meet their goal of safe roads for the driving public. In Idaho, for example, new salt-spreading units allow them to track how much salt they apply to the road, and other sensors allow them to check that the road is responding as expected to the salt application, and is not getting slippery. This also helps reduce costs. They have seen a 29 percent reduction in annual winter maintenance costs since introducing the new technology.

Maintaining mobility is also a big concern, as people need to get to work or the grocery store and kids need to get to school. Clear roads allow ambulances and other emergency vehicles to perform their life-saving services. A study for the American Highway Users Alliance found that the cost of having roads closed down is substantial — between $300 million and $700 million a day for a state in direct and indirect earnings. One study suggested that the costs of maintaining the road system during a winter storm are completely recovered in the first 25 minutes of winter-maintenance activities, because of the improvements in safety and mobility that the improved road conditions bring about.

Care for the environment is also a key issue in safe and sustainable snowfighting. Several studies have shown that when road salt is properly applied at the right time and place to keep roadways safe and passable, environmental impacts can be effectively managed and minimized. Modern roadways are not a natural feature of the environment and are specifically engineered to satisfy our demand for personal and commercial mobility — factors that are basic to the quality of life.

A comprehensive study by environmental researchers at the University of Waterloo and Environment Canada found that when best practices, as outlined in Canada’s Road Salt Code of Practice, were used, chloride levels were reduced by half. Another study by the Guelph University Research Review found that recycling stormwater runoff could reduce chloride peaks in streams without adversely affecting road safety. In cooperation with the city of Toronto, researchers used the EPA Storm Water Management Model to design computer-controlled stormwater containment systems to serve as a guide for future mitigation applications.

Salt is our most important winter resource, because it saves lives and protects the economy. It is economical and extremely effective.

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