Chicago residents warned against using excess salt amid snowfall  

Chicago residents warned against using excess salt amid snowfall  

After snow impacted the Chicago area Sunday, residents are being urged not to use excessive amounts of salt on their sidewalks and driveways.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago posted the reminder on Sunday afternoon, saying that it takes a surprisingly low amount of salt to properly melt away snow and ice.

According to officials, a 12-ounce cup holds enough salt for 10 sidewalk squares, or a 20-foot driveway.

The reason for caution with road salt is both an environmental concern and an economic one. Studies conducted in the Upper Mississippi River basin have shown that levels of chloride have increased by more than 33% in the areas waterways since the 1980s, and the issue is magnified in small rivers and streams that don’t flow at the same rate as the Mississippi River, according to Science Friday.

Increases in chloride can have devastating consequences on freshwater plants and animals, and can also damage soil and plants on land as well, according to experts.

For Chicago-area residents, salt can end up washing into Lake Michigan or into the Chicago River, which is ultimately connected to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.

Excess road salt can also have significant consequences for cars as well, with exposed metals in brake and fuel lines being susceptible to damage, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Cars become more susceptible to that corrosion as they get older, according to experts, and experts urge residents to wash salt off cars once a week during the winter months.

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