Rock Salt Effects On Your Community

Protect you and your loved ones.

How does rock salt effect your pets?

The effects of rock salt on animals’ health causes irritation in the respiratory tract, skin, and mouth. There has been reports from pet companions stating that they have seen irritation in their cats’ and dogs’ skin and paws after stepping in rock salt. The reports show significant swelling and rashes developing in their furry friends’ paws and skin (Gaia Enterprises, Inc). Most of the pet owners are asking rock salt companies what is so poisonous in their formula to de-ice the roads that it causes harm to their animals. The only answer the rock companies can give is that their rock salt is made from sodium chloride. After the rock salt is transmitted onto the paws of animals, they may lick their paws and transmit the poisonous substances in rock salt into their body. When the poisonous substance is transmitted into an animal's body it can cause irritation of the mouth, throat and gastrointestinal tracts. This will show up in the form of sodium toxicosis. If a cat has toxicosis poisoning it will start salivating, quivering, vomiting, or go the litter box frequently because of diarrhea ([the Nest]). Cases of rock salt poisoning in dogs and cats reached a high during 2010 when RSPCA said it received 248 calls regarding cases with cats and dogs passing away from rock salt poisoning. RSPCA received these complaints from grieving pet companions between January 1 and mid-November in 2010, and mentioned that it compared to only 259 cases that were called in for the whole of 2009. Ruby, a five-month-old Lhasa Apso, fell ill on a Sunday evening, a day after being outside in the rock salt. Ruby had to be put down the following monday morning because of kidney failure. Ruby’s owners stated that when she returned home after walking on the road where the rock salt was, she began grooming herself and then started salivating excessively. After noticing the salivation, her owners took her to the vet. The vet kept her there for awhile then allowed Ruby home the following day. Ruby’s companions were still very concerned so they took her to another vet where she was put down immediately because of kidney failure. Along with harming cats and dogs rock salt can cause disorientation in birds and squirrels. When this disorientation is caused in birds it makes them incapable to fly correctly causing them to run into objects and fall during flight (Andrew Levy for the Daily Mail). In all, rock salt is harmful to animals and causes health problems for them.

How does rock salt effect the environment?

Rock salt affects plants and trees by removing moisture which the plants and trees need to live. Only a few grains of rock salt can kill a plant. Once rock salt enters the soil, it will stay there for a few years (Munroe, Shala). The salt raises the soils salinity, which stops the plants from getting nutrients which is what they need to survive. Other than salt being placed in the soil to kill it, the salt ends up in plants and near trees because cars push it there. The salt is placed on roads and then moved into the plants by the water that is left by snow(Munroe, Shala).

The salt can kill the plant in different ways. The salt can increase the water stress by holding the water molecules together, since the salt is holding all the water, none is left for the roots to absorb which decreases the growth (Gould, Ann). The salt also has an effect on the soil. The sodium in the salt attaches to soil and displaces elements like potassium and phosphorous. Soil density and compaction increases and drainage is reduced. With these conditions, plant growth is poor (Gould, Ann).

The rock salt affects the minerals nutrition. Concentration of sodium and chloride components of salt are excessive which makes the plants absorb these ions instead of the phosphorous and potassium ions that the plants are supposed to absorb. The plants suffer from potassium and phosphorous deficiency (Gould, Ann). The salt can also affect plants by raising its toxic level. The chloride component of salt is absorbed by roots which makes it concentrated in an actively growing tissue (Gould, Ann). If plants are exposed to salt for long periods of time, it can cause a leaf burn and a twig die-back (Gould, Ann).

Salt can get into trees in two ways, through airborne salt spray or through the soil. Salt spray enters through leave scars and can kill the dominant bud (Manufacturing Corp). When the salt dissolves, it it separates into sodium and chloride ions which damage the tree. The chloride ions are pulled up through the root and enter the sap, concentrate in the shoots and prevent buds from opening (Manufacturing Corp). The ions can then be moved to growing leaf margins causing leaf scorch, curling or death (Manufacturing Corp).

How does rock salt effect concrete?

Concrete can be weakened by rock salt. Concrete is at its strongest when is is compressed or squeezed. One of concrete’s weaknesses is when it is pulled or expanded. Concrete can absorb water somewhat like a sponge so when the rock salt melts ice and snow on a sidewalk or driveway the melted snow will be absorbed into the concrete (Parmer, Joey). Just water being absorbed into the concrete alone makes the concrete softer. If the temperature drops again after the water is absorbed, the concrete will freeze along with the rock salt. This will cause the concrete to explode or crack which damages the sidewalk and then would have to be redone. Damages like these are more common with freshly poured concrete. To prevent damages you should make sure your concrete is cured before winter(Amorosi, Andrew). Also, when you use rock salt you should be careful that the snow melted by the rock salt won't re-freeze. In a blog about de-icing roads by Russell McLendon she explains that there are not that many cases of ruined concrete that affected the environment or people. It is more important to have de-iced roads so cars don’t slide than it is to have a few cracks in some sidewalks(McLendon, Russell). In conclusion it is not common for concrete to be ruined by rock salt.

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Works Cited

Amorosi, Andrew. "Preventing Damage from Ice and Snow." The Cooperator. The Cooperator, Oct. 2009. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

Andrew Levy for the Daily Mail. "Hundreds of Dogs and Cats Die from Rock Salt Scattered by Gritters in Big Freeze." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 23 Dec. 2010. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.

Gaia Enterprises, Inc. "7 Harmful Effects Of Calcium Chloride Ice Melter Known As Rock Salt |." Safe Paw. GAIA Enterprises, Inc., 8 Jan. 2010. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.

Gould, Ann. "Impact of Road Salt on Adjacent Vegetation." Plant Pest Advisory. Rutgers University, 20 Mar. 2013. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.

Manufacturing Corp., XYNYTH. "Yates County Master Gardeners." How Salt Damages Trees. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

McLendon, Russell. "De-icing Dilemma." MNN. Mother Nature Network, 20 Jan. 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

Munroe, Shala. "The Rock Salt Concentration Needed to Kill Plants." Home Guides. Home Guides, n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

[the Nest]. "What Are the Dangers of Using Rock Salt Around Cats?" Pets. N.p., 15 Feb. 2012. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.

Parmer, Joey. Personal Interview. 2015 March 13.