With the ice and snow of winter comes the increased need for salt on the roadways. Many municipalities throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey pretreat their roads with a salt mixture to prevent snow or rain from freezing and creating dangerous icy driving conditions.
While the safety of drivers is an important concern, some health advocates now warn the use of too much rock salt can have a negative impact on the environment, including the contamination of wells.
Environmental advocates, including those with the New Jersey Sierra Club, recently voiced their concerns about the overuse of rock salt while preparing road surfaces for potential snowfalls. They believe salt overloads can temporarily pollute freshwater drinking supplies.
When freshwater becomes saturated with salt, its composition becomes more like seawater. Large amounts of chloride from the salt can lead to an increased presence of lead in drinking water. Homes with older lead pipes tend to be particularly vulnerable to increased lead levels.
Several public officials, including New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, have reiterated the importance of preparing roadways for upcoming extreme weather conditions. Until safer alternatives such as potassium carbonate compounds replace rock salt, New Jersey residents remain at risk from contaminated drinking water.
Consuming water with excessive amounts of lead can have serious environmental and health impacts on a community. Lead contaminated drinking water has been associated with adverse health effects including developmental delays in children. Individuals with immune deficiencies and high blood pressure are at higher risk for developing health problems when exposed to lead contaminated drinking water.
Long-lasting environmental damage, including harm to native fish and other aquatic species, can also occur. Aquatic ecosystems are being irreversibly changed, as indigenous plants such as white pines are being replaced by hardier salt-tolerant species.
At least one body of water in New Jersey already has been identified as “impaired by salt” by New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection. Bergen County’s Oradell Reservoir has been found to have excessive levels of chloride, causing problems for Bergen County residents living in homes with older water pipes containing lead soldering. As the chloride erodes the lead soldering, lead particles are released into residential drinking water.
Schools in Toms River and Middletown have tested positive for lead contamination, forcing the removal of water fountains and the need for emergency lead poisoning screenings. Lead contamination issues related to the salting of Route 23 in West Milford near the Pequannock Reserve also have recently come to light.
Clean drinking water advocates contend the economic costs of the lead contamination problem exceeds eight billion dollars.
Individuals suffering adverse health effects after drinking contaminated water may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.
Holding responsible parties accountable for contaminated drinking water begins with contacting an experienced Philadelphia environmental lawyer who can fight on behalf of contamination victims.
If you have suffered health problems after drinking contaminated water, the experienced South Jersey and Philadelphia environmental lawyers at Williams Cedar can help. Call us today at our Haddonfield, New Jersey office at 856-470-9777 or our Philadelphia office at 215-557-0099 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation. We proudly represent injured individuals throughout Cherry Hill, South Jersey, Pennsylvania, and nationwide.