Quality of a River - Water Quality
Contaminants: Toxins (pg 3
Road salts-commonly sodium chloride mixed with
cyanide compounds as an anti-caking agent-are
widespread contaminants. Highway departments
throughout the United States apply some 10 million
tons of road salt each year. Minnesota alone
applies more than 200,000 tons. Runoff from heavily
traveled roads raises salinity in nearby streams.
When cyanide compounds break down, they form free
cyanide, a potent poison.
The greatest problems, according to research by
the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, may stem
not from runoff from road applications, but runoff
from poorly managed stockpiles of road salt stored
by highway departments near surface waters.
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