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Could Winter Road Salt Be Affecting Your Blood Pressure

 

Just curious…for those of you who get a lot of snow in winter, have you noticed a spike in your blood pressure after it snows?

You might be interested to know that there could be a reason for that spike…that is if you drink tap water!

Deicing may be affecting your blood pressure.


We’re almost out of the snowy season, but you might want to keep this little tidbit of information in the back of your mind for next year.

Before the Tap Water Discovery

It turns out that the higher-ups have discovered there could be an issue with the road salt that keeps the snow and ice from building up on the roads.

Before this discovery with the tap water infiltration of deicing salt, they were  more concerned with it affecting freshwater aquatic animals such as frogs, toads & salamanders.

They were even watching the aquatic macroinvertebrates such as worms, snails, beetles, dragonflies, etc. because the animals a step up (those frogs, toads & salamanders) survive on eating the worms, snails, etc.

The reason for watching the creepy crawlers was that they were a good indicator of whether the stream quality is off or not.

They still are, but now the discovery has been made that what YOU ingest is affected by rock salt deicing as well!

Levels of Sodium in Drinking Water

Did you know that the deicing runoff into streams could be adding up to 33.3% to your 1500 mg per day recommended amount of sodium if you drink tap water?

That’s a lot of sodium that you could be enjoying with food instead of water!

If you have no sodium restrictions or high blood pressure issues, tap water that was affected by the deicing could reach up to 18.8% of the recommended limit of 2300 mg per day.

Recommended Salt Level in Drinking Water

The recommended safe level of sodium in drinking water at home is 20 milligrams per liter.

 More Effects of Deicing Salt

  • Water pipes can be corroded faster with the higher levels of sodium chloride, which can then release heavy metals such as lead into the water.
  • An example…is Morris, Minnesota, water pipes in the local high school became so clogged with mineral deposits that the toilets didn’t flush, water fountains didn’t work, and all the pipes had to be replaced.
  • If there are any other chemicals such as radon or mercury hidden in the soil,  they can be released into drinking water as well.

How to Reduce Sodium in Your Drinking Water

Using a reverse-osmosis water filter can remove the sodium from your tap water as well as other contaminants such as nitrates, fluoride, arsenic.

 Reverse-osmosis Cons

One con to using reverse osmosis is that it also takes out minerals that are healthy for you such as magnesium, calcium, potassium.

An additional con is using the example of 5 gallons of water being run thru reverse-osmosis water filter…many more gallons of waste water.  

Alternatives to rock salt for deicing


Brine VS Salt for Deicing Roads + Alternatives

  • Treat roads with liquid salt brine (a 3 to 1 mixture of water and salt) BEFORE the snowstorm instead of after. With this mixture, the temperatures can be much lower before freezing than regular water. This liquid salt brine is cheaper and better than rock salt, but terrible for your car, unfortunately!
  • Using sand or beet juice. The beet juice would be much more expensive tho. Just my opinion, but I would think that would make the roads look very colorful…to say the least!
  • Cities/townships can store the salt in structures/buildings with no means of sodium leakage. When I was growing up in the Pittsburgh, PA area, there was one of these near our home, so it’s very doable.
  • Change up the type of snow plows used to ones that are more effective at removing snow. Mentioned in the Popular Mechanics article are live-edge snowplows. What makes these different and BETTER are the multiple blades connected by springs instead of the fixed, straight edge on the (shall we say!) old-fashioned snowplows.

Well, there you have it!

When you have high blood pressure, you wonder just why is it that your blood pressure suddenly went up! This bit of information gives you one more “thing” that could be making that happen.

If you find out that it IS the reason for a bp spike, if filtering your water isn’t an option, there’s the good old store-bought water as a solution to at least try it to see if it helps. 

References:

Sarah Stanley, American Geophysical Union. Phys Org. Road Salts Linked to High Sodium in Tap Water. Published March 9, 2022. https://phys.org/news/2022-03-road-salts-linked-high-sodium.html

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. A Guide to Drinking Water Technologies for Household Use. Page last reviewed August 4 2020.

Niko McCarty. Scienceline. Published April 9, 2021. How a Minnesota Town Cut Back on Salt. https://scienceline.org/2021/04/how-a-minnesota-town-cut-back-on-salt/

Ashley Simpson. Published December 22, 2021. Popular Mechanics. Road Salt is Wrecking Havoc On Our Drinking Water and the Environment, Study Says. https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a38595110/road-salt-environment/

Ashley Halsey III. Published February 22, 2015. Washington Post. Worse than Salt, Brine Sprayed on Roads Will Munch Your Car to Pieces.

Magnus Jem. Tapp Water. What Are the Pros and Cons of Reverse Osmosis Water Filters? Published February 28, 2021. https://tappwater.co/en/reverse-osmosis-ro-water-filters/

New York State Department of Health. Salt and Drinking Water. Revised February 2020. https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/salt_drinkingwater.htm

EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency). Indicators: Benthic Macroinvertebrates. Last Updated July 7, 2021. https://www.epa.gov/national-aquatic-resource-surveys/indicators-benthic-macroinvertebrates#:~:text=Benthic%20(meaning%20%E2%80%9Cbottom%2Ddwelling,snails%2C%20worms%2C%20and%20beetles.

National Geographic. About Amphibians. From the National Geographic Book, Animal Encyclopedia, 2012. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/amphibians