Chemicals in salt ban may result in slippery roads this winter

Dutch cyclists keep going in the snow. Photo:
Slippery roads hit the cities as well as motorways. Photo:

A preliminary investigation has shown the gritting salt used to combat slippery roads in winter contains too many harmful chemicals and may be banned, the Telegraaf reported on Monday.

The analysis, which will be repeated using more precise measuring methods, showed the level of PFAS compounds in the salt may exceed the official limit, the paper said.

PFAS are toxic chemicals used in a wide range of manufacturing processes, from pizza boxed to non-stick frying pans, and which do not break down naturally. Linked to several types of cancer and other health problems, they are found in water, in soil, plants and wildlife.

To stop the chemicals from accumulating in the environment, new norms were established in July.  The new limits also affect the building industry, which is banned from transporting PFAS contaminated soil and sludge and recently staged a mass protest.

Some 200,000 kilos of salt is needed annually to keep Dutch roads navigable in winter. Some of the salt is cleaner sea salt and vacuum salt but there is not enough of that, Ardin Bos, director of the Zoutbank salt producer told the paper. The rest of the salt is locally produced and imported from other European countries.

A spokesman for the infrastructure ministry told the paper it would wait for the results of the second analysis which are expected later in the week.  ‘It’s about the details, such as how much of the toxic substances are found, the effects and the places where the salt is stored. When we have the data we will decide what to do,’ the spokesman said.

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