Suburban Drinking Wells Are Being Polluted by Road Salt

Millions of tons of road salt are applied to roads in the US every year. Some of this salt seeps into groundwater, polluting drinking wells. Photo via Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

A new study in theĀ Journal of Environmental Quality shows that road salt applied during the winter can seep into groundwater and pollute drinking water supplies. Scientists analyzed publicly available data on water samples taken from private drinking water wells in East Fishkill. More than half of the wells sampled exceeded EPA health standards for sodium.

Victoria Kelly, lead author and Environmental Monitoring Program Manager at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, explains, “Each year, millions of metric tons of road salt are applied to roads in the US. Some of this salt seeps into the soil, where it accumulates and contaminates groundwater. We wanted to understand why some wells were more at risk than others, to inform management that protects water quality.”

Source: The Cary Institute