Road salt under scrutiny in Maine
The use of road salt to keep roads clear during winter storms has increased dramatically in the past 50 years. Plenty of us are old enough to remember when road crews spread sand or cinders to keep plowed roads passable. And if they used salt at all, it was mostly on hills. If you had to get around in those days, you put snow tires or chains on your car.
I can remember being towed behind a neighbor's car on a tobaggan. The roads were all snow-covered for days after a storm, and it didn't seem like such a big deal, at least not to a kid. Of course, it was dangerous and stupid, but it was a heck of a lot of fun.
The increased use of road salt has often come under fire from environmentalists who worried about damage to roadside trees, and about all that salt running into nearby waterways. And now scientists in Maine have begun to look more closely at the issue. They say they don't advocate banning it. They just want to know more about how it's affecting the environment. Here's the story.