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SILENT KILLER PROJECT: Salt Pollution and Contamination
Frostburg State University, located in an upland region of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, is a leader in challenging peoples’ perceptions of environmentalism by promoting and supporting affirmative changes in the behavior of the campus and surrounding community.
Intentionally or unintentionally people have an impact on the environment. Just by being here we are impacting the campus and by default the local and regional environment.
One of the most blatant impacts we have on the campus soil and water quality is the application of “salt” (commonly NaCl) during the winter. For our safety salt is applied to roads, car parks’, building entrances and sidewalks.
Salt the silent killer! Salt is a very versatile and mobile material and after the winter it enters the soil and campus watershed via multiple pathways. Excessive salt in soils will limit plant growth, inhibit cycling of organic matter and degrade the quality of the campus soils.
Soil is our best friend; it cleans our water, grows our food, provides us with shelter, helps regulate our climate and is the ultimate recycler. Yet our current behavior toward the water and soils within local watersheds of is questionable. Unfortunately we have a very rudimentary understanding of the scale of our impact; our actual pollution footprint. Given enough salt and time the campus soils will become toxic.
We know how much salt is put down during the winter, but exaxctly when it becomes mobile and where it all goes is unknown.
The project will generate a detailed account of salt mobility, storage and pathways across campus to assess the health of our soils, and describe one part of our pollution footprint in great detail. If we act locally the repercussions of our actions can have global implications.