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Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

 Федеральный исследовательский центр «Красноярский научный центр Сибирского отделения Российской академии наук»

Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

Problems with water and soil quality will arise if not to remove anti-icing reagents from the roads

9 October 2020 г.

Если не убирать противогололедные реагенты с дорог, возникнут проблемы с качеством воды и почвы
Using standard toxicological biotests Krasnoyarsk scientists determined the critical concentrations of one of the most common anti-icing reagents in the country. According to their estimates, the runoff from each square meter of the treated surface can lead to contamination of 8-13 liters of fresh water. The results of the study were published in the journal Bulletin of the Tomsk State University. Biology.

Water ecologists around the world are sounding the alarm. Anti-icing reagents can cause problems  with environmental quality. For example, the most popular road ice control products containing chloride salts can increase salinity in water ecosystems, leading to negative environmental consequences and to the death of the animal world.

In many cities of Russia, in recent years, the intensity of using salt-containing mixtures for combating icing of road surfaces and pedestrian zones has sharply increased. Their use raises public concern and attracts the attention of regulatory authorities. To predict the consequences for ecosystems from the long-term use of chloride salts, it is necessary to have an idea concerning the resistance of organisms to the components making up anti-icing reagents.

Scientists from the Krasnoyarsk Science Center of SB RAS determined the concentration of solutions of the anti-icing salt mixture "Bionord", containing sodium and calcium chlorides, whose negative effects on the development of animals and plants are observed. The toxicity tests show that the main effect of the road reagent is associated with its constituent chlorine and sodium salts. Based on the research data and standards for using the anti-icing mixture, scientists established that runoff from a square meter of  treated surface can lead to the contamination of 8-13 liters of fresh water.

Biologists studied the effect of the solutions with different concentrations of anti-icing mixture on the growth and reproduction of the cladocerans Moina macrocopa and onion Allium cepa. The research results show that when the concentration of the anti-icing mixture in the solution is about five grams per liter, half of the studied crustaceans die within two days, and at higher concentrations, all the specimens die. At the same time, a lower concentration of the mixture does not significantly affect the average life span, growth and fertility of crustaceans. In the experiments on onions, scientists were concerned with  the length of roots and number of dividing cells in the roots. In solutions with the salt concentration being five grams per liter, these indicators, as in the experiments with crustaceans, were two times lower.

“Since there are mainly chloride salts in the composition of anti-icing reagents, the effect of their solutions is not much different from ordinary salt. If any salt-containing reagent is not removed from the roads, as prescribed in the instructions, then in spring nothing will grow on the lawns. Salt entering the surrounding water bodies can make them not particularly suitable for their natural inhabitants. So, it is necessary to promptly take out snow, ice and the reagent from the roads to specially prepared landfills, which will prevent salt solutions from coming into the groundwater, ”says Yegor Zadereev, Candidate of Biological Sciences, leading researcher at the Institute of Biophysics SB RAS.

Scientists attract special attention to the fact that cleaning treated surfaces from anti-icing reagents, which  is regulated by the rules of their use, is a basic requirement for salt-containing agents. The reason for this is the gradual accumulation of sodium and calcium chlorides in water bodies, which can lead to serious disturbances in the life of water bodies. It should be borne in mind that chlorides can accumulate in ecosystems. In this connection, the consequences of chemical pollution of the areas where salt-containing anti-icing agents have been used for a long period of time must be considered in the long term.

The research was carried out with the support of the Krasnoyarsk Regional Science Foundation.