Jess & Mildred Fisher College of Science & Mathematics

UEBL Projects

Project: Influence of road salt on urban ecosystems

Summary: The use of sodium chloride as a deicing agent in cold climates has been a common practice since the mid-1900s and its use has increased dramatically in recent decades.  Municipalities in the US apply 8-12 million tons of road salt to impervious surfaces annually. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not currently list road salt as a potential contaminant to surface waters; however, there is evidence that Cl- levels in surface waters of urban systems are already at levels that may be harmful to freshwater ecosystems (> 250 mg/L chloride).  Research in the UEBL has recently evaluated road salt toxicity in amphibians and characterized the impacts of road salt on stormwater pond soils and groundwater surrounding stormwater ponds.


Van Meter, R. J., C. M. Swan, J. Leips, and J. W. Snodgrass. 2011. Road salt stress induces novel food web structure and interactions. Wetlands 31:843-851. Link to Full Article

Van Meter, R. J., C. M. Swan and J. W. Snodgrass. 2011. Salinization alters ecosystem structure in urban stormwater detention ponds. Urban Ecosystems 14:723-726. Link to Full Article

Brown, M., E. Dobbs, J.W. Snodgrass, D.R. Ownby. 2012. Ameliorative effects of sodium chloride on acute copper toxicity among Cope’s Gray Tree Frog (Hyla chrysoscelis) and Green Frog (Rana clamitans) embryos. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 31(4):836-842. Link to Full Article

Dobbs, E., M. Brown, J.W. Snodgrass, D.R. Ownby. 2012.  Dependence of salt toxicity to Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) on water depth. Herpetologica. 68(1):22-30. Link to Full Article

Casey, RE, SM Lev, JW Snodgrass.  2012.  Stormwater ponds as a source of long-term surface and ground water salinization.  Urban Water Journal. In press.



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