It can be. Deicing salts like sodium choloride (NaCl) and magnesium chloride (MgCl2) can leave into urban soils, where they become toxic to terrestrial plants and soil protozoa. Runoff from the deicing chemical propylene glycol, used on aircrafts, can also contaminate aquatic ecosystems and human drinking water supplies.
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Yes, it can be bad for the environment, or at least the green growing things. Too much salt in soil can make it impossible for plants to grow – there is, in fact, an ancient practice of “salting the earth” where an army will salt the enemies’ fields to prevent future crop growth. One of the problems with road salt is for homeowners, since the salt, which gets plowed up into the yard with the next snowfall, kills the grass by the road, as well as other plants and trees. However, the salt can also get washed into wetlands and streams, and can harm these environments, too.
In addition to the answers provided, road salt will increase the level of sodium and chloride ions in water. This results in higher rate of corrosion and can damage nearby roads. This is more of an economic issue but it does have an environmental impact. Poor roads and eroded rocks provide hazards for humans and animals alike.
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