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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2001 Feb;48(2):128-39.

Ecotoxicological evaluation of three deicers (NaCl, NaFo, CMA)-effect on terrestrial organisms.

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Département des Génie Civil, Géologiques et des Mines, Ecole Polytechnique, 2900 Edouart-Montpetit, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3A7, Canada.


The use of chemical deicers such as sodium chloride (NaCl) has increased significantly during the past three decades. Deicers induce metal corrosion and alter the physicochemical properties of soils and water. Environmental damage caused by the use of NaCl has prompted government agencies to find alternative deicers. This article presents a comparative ecotoxicological study of three deicers on soil organisms. Sodium formiate (NaFo) and calcium-magnesium acetate (CMA) are the most interesting commercially available deicers based upon their characteristics and potential toxicity. Organisms used in this study were four species of macrophytes (cress (Lepidium sativum), barley (Ordeum vulgare), red fescue grass (Festuca rubra), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis)) and an invertebrate (Eisenia fetida). Using standardized and modified methods, the relative toxicity of deicers was CMA < NaFo congruent with NaCl. The results demonstrate that these chemicals could have similar impacts in terrestrial environments since similar quantities of NaFo and greater amounts of CMA are necessary to achieve the same efficiency as NaCl. The toxicity of the tested substances was lower in natural composted soil than in artificial substrate (silica or OECD soil), indicating decreased environmental bioavailability. The response of the organisms changed according to endpoint, species, and soil characteristics (artificial substrate as compared to natural organic soil). The most sensitive endpoint measured was macrophyte growth with Kentucky bluegrass being the most sensitive species.

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