Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 127, Issue 1, pp 281-299

First online:

The Impact of Road De-Icing Salts (NaCl) on Colloid Dispersion and Base Cation Pools in Roadside Soils

  • A.-C. NorrströmAffiliated withDiv. of Land and Water Resources, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Royal Institute of Technology
  • , E. BergstedtAffiliated withVBB-WIAK AB

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The maintenance of safe-drivingconditions in snow and ice-affected areas in thewintertime includes the use of sodium chloride (NaCl)as de-icing salts. In this study, the impact of NaClon soil-colloid mobilisation and exchangeablebase-cation leaching has been evaluated. The chemistryof groundwater samples below an infiltration trenchfor highway runoff and leachate from column studiessuggested that soil-colloid mobilisation had occurred,as the exchangeable sodium (Na) concentration and theelectrical conductivity (EC) in the groundwater/columnleachate reached the threshold values for colloiddispersion. Generally, samples with no dispersionproblems had high Na and calcium (Ca) concentrations,suggesting that the initial effect of the de-icingsalt was to stabilise the colloids. In the columnstudy there was a good agreement between the degree ofcolloid dipersion problems and lead (Pb) concentrationwhen the pH value was above 7.0. Significant negativecorrelations between Na/CEC (cation exchange capacity)and Ca/CEC in roadside soils from three sitesindicated that Na preferentially displaces Ca from theexchange sites. However, the groundwater dataindicated that Na ions also displace potassium (K) andmagnesium (Mg). A positive effect of NaCl seen at onesite was an increase in the K concentration, which ishighly likely an effect of Na ions displacing fixed Kbetween the layers of 2:1 type clay minerals. In soilslacking these types of clay minerals, severe Kshortage may result from a high plant demand combinedwith the low K concentration in the readily availablefractions in the original soil and a highsusceptibility to leaching. The most significantimpact on soil exchange processes was found to occurwithin 6 m from the road.

colloid mobilisation de-icing salt exchangeable base cations lead NaCl roadside soils