For decades, environmentally conscious people, organizations, and companies have made significant effort in reducing their carbon footprint. Reducing levels of carbon emissions in order to mitigate the damage to our atmosphere and environment has been the main focus of well-intentioned green initiatives. We have shared at length about our own efforts to reduce hazardous emissions and our own carbon footprint. But is that enough? What is next?
Chloride consciousness is now a major focus of the green initiative efforts of Landscape Solutions.
The Dilemma of Snow & Ice Management
In central Indiana, our winter weather and snowfall we traditionally see mandate that we have a plan to ensure safety and to allow commerce and education to continue. The products that have traditionally been used to battle these winter headaches are not good for the environment. Any products used will introduce foreign elements into the soil and water. Chemicals affect the environment in different ways. Even though there is no 100% perfect product, certainly, some are more or less harmful than others.
Chemicals Commonly Used in Snow and Ice Management
The chemicals used to melt ice act by creating a chemical reaction that lowers the freezing temperature of water. Commonly used chemicals (active ingredients) include:
- Sodium Chloride (salt)
- Potassium Chloride
- Calcium Chloride
- Magnesium Chloride
- Calcium Magnesium Acetate
- Potassium Acetate
Additionally, most ice management compounds have additives included to enhance the performance of the chemical and to “stretch” the active ingredients. Commonly used additives include:
- Sand/Abrasives (to introduce traction)
- Colorants (to indicate where product has been applied)
- Corrosion Inhibitors (to mitigate damage to buildings, parking lots, sidewalks, and vehicles)
- Additives such as molasses, corn syrup, and beet juice
How Snow & Ice Management Chemicals Affect the Environment
These chemicals and additives are applied and dispersed by homeowners, property managers, custodians, and city governments in response to winter weather conditions — the environmental effects are spread likewise.
These chemicals leak into the soil as melting ice runs off of roads, driveways, and sidewalks. And what makes it into the soil also gets into vegetation. As the water evaporates, the chemicals are dispersed into the air we breathe. Storm drains and run-off empty into the waterways and wells, affecting the water we drink and use for irrigation. Also affected by water contamination is any aquatic animal or plant life. These chemicals will find their way into the air we breathe and even into our food chain via any number of avenues.
In addition to the environmental impact, there is potential property damage from these chemicals. Sidewalks, driveways, parking lots are damaged by the application of these products. Product is oversprayed onto surrounding buildings, causing significant damage over time. Automobiles that drive on treated roadways are subject to the caustic effects of these products.
These products harm our environment and damage our infrastructure. They must be used judicially and as little as possible to balance their harmful effects with the safety they provide.
How is that balance achieved?
Our Strategy: Fighting Snow & Ice While Mitigating Environmental Damage
Maximize Effectiveness & Use Less
We at Landscape Solutions have dedicated much time and research to learning about these chemicals — their usefulness and their potential environmental impact. We take great care to choose the most effective product for the weather conditions. We have weather-tracking partners that allow us to perfectly time applications to maximize effectiveness and reduce waste and run-off. By maximizing the efficiency of the products we use, we are able to use less.
Liquid Deicers to Minimize Chemical Use
When possible, we at Landscape Solutions use liquid deicers. The use of liquid product allows the chemical to be spread in the thinnest layer possible on the surface we are treating. These chemicals, even when used in very small amounts, can prevent bonding of the ice to the surfaces such as roads, sidewalks, and parking lots. In fact, far less chemical is required to prevent ice from bonding as is needed to prevent water from freezing.
When the chemical is used in a liquid treatment, studies done by organizations like the Iowa State Highway Commission show that 20-30% less chemical can be used without reducing the effectiveness of the application, especially at colder temperatures.
Snow & Ice Control — A Necessary Evil in Central Indiana
Chemicals that combat snow and ice provide a great service to our society — they prevent accidents and injuries and keep our transportation and commerce running even in threatening weather. The use of these products saves lives, without a doubt. But they are not used without consequence. As population and urbanization increases, the use of these products will go up and the unwanted side effects will be multiplied.
That is why it is critically important that we use them as responsibly as possible. These products cannot be used carelessly. We need to make every effort to avoid over-application and to reduce their use, while maximizing their effectiveness.
At Landscape Solutions, our commitment to green initiatives goes year-round and as always, we are on the front lines of technology and environmental consciousness. If you are an HOA president or property manager in the Hamilton County or central Indiana area who cares about safety and the environment, call us today for a customized plan to combat snow and ice!