De-icer beats alternatives |

De-icer beats alternatives

Magnesium chloride doesn’t have the greatest reputation. Opponents to use of the road de-icer say it is harmful to the environment and wildlife, has detrimental health effects and ruins automobiles.

But let’s face it, we all become the chemical’s best foul-weather friend when driving home through a blizzard on Vail Pass that 10 years ago would have sent us scrambling for a cot in Dillon.

While the aforementioned concerns shouldn’t be ignored, magnesium chloride is the best alternative we have for safer roads.

The health and environmental impacts of the magnesium chloride are still debatable, without conclusive studies on either side. We do know, however, that the previous strategy against snow and ice on roads wasn’t stellar in either category.

The mixture of sand and rock salt clogs streams, kills vegetation and was a major contributor to the brown clouds that hovered over Denver and other Colorado cities and towns during the winter and spring months.

The Colorado Department of Transportation says magnesium chloride is safe for the environment, and a study by the Colorado Department of Public Health found the human health risks to be no greater than those caused by the salt and sand applications.

And there is the added health benefit of the lives saved by the safer roads.

More studies are warranted and, like any chemical introduced to the environment, magnesium chloride should be used sparingly.

Ray Merry, the environmental health director for the town of Avon, says the best approach to de-icers is to be “cautiously optimistic.”

We agree.

For the price of a few additional trips to the car wash each winter, magnesium chloride creates a safer winter driving environment and, ultimately, saves lives.

Until there is concrete evidence supporting the detrimental effects of magnesium chloride to the environment or our health, it is the best alternative.

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