Apr 12, 2017

By Michael Kramer

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Road salt is threatening freshwater lakes in Ontario and other parts of North America – according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

And there’s a dire prediction that thousands of lakes will contain too much salt  to sustain their current levels of aquatic life – if current road salt trends continue over the next 50 years.

Researchers studied 371 North American lakes, including nine in Ontario – as they tracked changes in chloride levels over several years.

They found lakes near roadways covered in salt during bad weather recorded significantly higher chloride concentrations – which  brought them closer to the upper limits of the EPA’s legal pollution standard – for chloride in freshwater.

Here in Ontario,  Lake Simcoe’s chloride levels have climbed five-fold in the past 10 to 20 years – while lakes in the less urbanized northwest region of the province have stayed relatively stable – and well below the EPA’s threshold of 230 millilitres of chloride per litre of water.

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