Study: `Mag chlor’ effects minimal |

Study: `Mag chlor’ effects minimal

Sarah S. Chung

There’s no immediate cause for alarm over magnesium chloride, according to a newly released report of soil testing in Snowmass Village.

In three locations along Brush Creek Road samples were taken in the fall of 1997 and the spring to 1998 to determine if the use of the de-icer had a detrimental effect on the soil.

John McCarty, the town’s environmental specialist, says it’s too early to gauge the long-term effects, but the samples show that a season of using the chemical de-icer didn’t hinder the soil’s ability to support vegetation.

According to David Little of Servi-Tech Laboratories, the samples (taken at the surface, and at one, two, and three feet down) indicate that a winter’s use of magnesium chloride on Brush Creek Road did not significantly alter the roadside soil’s composition.

The town had several worries regarding use of the de-icer – impacts that could contribute to soil erosion along Brush Creek. They include: high salt levels, a calcium/magnesium imbalance in the soil, and vegetation burned by contact with magnesium chloride.

“We didn’t find any salt-loading, there was no calcium/magnesium imbalance, and the level of magnesium chloride in the soil was too diluted to burn vegetation,” Little said.

“Of course, I would recommend monitoring every year to see if levels change and our study didn’t test the runoff that directly feeds Brush Creek. But within the scope of our study, the levels we found were a long way off from being a problem.”

According to the town’s road supervisor, Greg Smith, monitoring samples will be taken every year. In addition, the town’s use of the de-icer has been significantly curtailed, from 32,000 gallons used last season to only 3,300 gallons used so far this winter.

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