Frequent Questions

I am concerned that the salt used for highway deicing is contaminating my well water supply. Can these chemicals affect the quality of my drinking water?

Sodium chloride is the most commonly used deicer that can affect drinking water quality. Sodium can lead to cardiovascular, kidney, and liver diseases, and has a direct link to high blood pressure. Although, there is no maximum contaminant level (MCL) or health advisory level for sodium, there is a Drinking Water Equivalent Level (DWEL) of 20 mg/L. This value was developed for those individuals restricted to a total sodium intake of 500 mg/day and should not be extrapolated to the entire population. Chloride, for which EPA has established a national secondary drinking water standard of 250 mg/L, adds a salty taste to water and corrodes pipes. Secondary standards are established only as guidelines to assist public water systems in managing their drinking water for aesthetic considerations such as taste, color, and odor (Source Water Protection Practices Bulletin: Managing Highway Deicing to Prevent Contamination of Drinking Water, EPA816-F-02-019, August 2002).
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