Living most of my life in the Arizona desert, I never worried about having to drive on snowy or icy roads. Occasionally, we would drive north to the mountains in the winter and in those cases, we would use tire chains when we reached snow covered roads. Back then, the Arizona Department of Transportation used to require tire chains under certain snowy conditions.
Additionally, they didn’t use salt or any other compound to melt the snow or ice. Since many of the hills were volcanic, they used to dig up the volcanic cinder, crush it up and spread it on the highways. It didn’t melt the snow, but helped provide better traction.
Now I live in northern Kentucky, where driving on snow can’t be avoided. To be honest, I would much rather drive in a dust storm than a snow storm. In this area, they spread salt or salt compounds on the roads when it snows, but this has a problem. If the temperature drops below a certain level, that salt or other compounds become ineffective. In those cases, they turn to a substance that contains beet juice as it has a lower freezing point. However, besides leaving the roads and cars red, if it rains before the snow, the beet juice compound is washed away.
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.
Until AquaSalina is banned as a hazardous radioactive material, like the paint on the watch dials, the company that produces it hopes to expand its use by other states and communities for their roads in with winter. That means that your roads could be treated with a solution containing radioactive radium. While the level is somewhat low, it could build up a radioactive residue with repeated sprayings of AquaSalina and in the next year or two, you could also be driving on radioactive roads