When winter arrives, every state, county and city prepare for the worst when snow and ice cover their roads. Snow plows are serviced and readied to take to the roads. Cities, counties and states check their stock piles of salt or other dry compounds used to melt the snow and ice. The problem with most of these compounds is that they only work at certain temperatures, but once the temperature of the road dips below that temperature, many of the dry compounds become ineffective.
Some areas require snow chains on all vehicles on the roads while other areas ban the use of snow chains. Some areas have turned to ground up volcanic cinder spread on the roads instead of salt or dry compounds. The cinder does not melt the snow, but does increase traction.
Since so many areas see their road temperatures often dipping below the functional temperature of many of the traditional dry compounds, they search for other items that are effective in melting the snow and ice at lower temperatures. Once such compound is a mixture of beet juice and other chemicals, that is sprayed on the roads in liquid form. It is often used as a pre-treatment before the snow starts falling. The problem with this is, if it rains first, the rain washes it off the road.
Another liquid compound that is finding use in treating roads is a product called AquaSalina. The product isn’t on the open market and may never be on the open market due to a brewing controversy surrounding the use of AquaSalina.
However, this winter, AquaSalina has been used on the roads and highways in Ohio, where the controversy is brewing as reported:
The product is AquaSalina. Consumers probably haven’t heard of it because it’s not commercially available. But last winter alone, hundreds of thousands of gallons of this de-icer was sprayed on our highways.
A state report found the de-icer contains radium, a radioactive element that, at high levels, has been linked to cancer.
The company that makes AquaSalina says the product is safe. The state claims the risk to the public is “negligible.” Some scientists and environmentalists disagree.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) tested AquaSalina for radioactivity and, in June and July of 2017, issued reports finding, on average, AquaSalina contains radium levels at 300 times higher than the federal standard for safe drinking water.
The reports also stated that AquaSalina “exceeds” Ohio’s limit for discharge to the environment.
David Mansbery, the owner of Nature’s Own Source, LLC, the company that makes AquaSalina, not only claims the ODNR report is wrong, he says his company conducted its own tests and sent a new report to the state.
“We have submitted it through our attorneys to the ODNR,” Mansbery told Local 12.
Mansbery says that the main ingredient in AquaSalina is what he calls ‘ancient seawater’ that is found underneath gas and oil fields that Mansbery owns. In its raw form, the ancient seawater is called brine and, in most areas, it is illegal to spray brine on roads. Mansbery filters out the impurities found in the seawater. The filtered product he packages as AguaSalina.
Teresa Mills, Executive Director of the Buckeye Environmental Network, is leading the fight against the use of AquaSalina due to the presence of radium. He recently told local news:
“It is not safe. There will be a constant buildup of radioactive materials on our roads, on the side of our roads, potentially running into our streams, and it’s going to affect human beings.”
On the news video, seen here, Mills held a Geiger counter at the opening of a jug of AquaSalina and the needle moved up the scale, indicating the presence of radioactivity.
Radium was used to paint the dials of watches and clocks, to allow them to glow in the dark. I had such a watch in junior high school. One day in our science class, the teacher held a Geiger counter to my watch and we heard the clicking that indicated radioactivity. In fact, like the AquaSalina, the radioactivity being release from watch was a little higher than the average x-ray, but none the less, wearing the watch all the time exposed my wrist to a constant supply of radioactivity. When I told my parents, that was the last I saw my watch. Not many years later, the use of radium for night-glowing objects was banned due to the potential health hazard.
Will the same be true with AquaSalina? Will it be banned because of a potential health hazard? So far, Ohio transportation officials are hoping not as they intend to continue to use the product on Ohio highways.
It’s just possible that if Ohio and AquaSalina win out, it could be sprayed on your roads and highways in coming winters. Will it make your roads radioactive?
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.