Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pass the Ecotraction, please

Where I live we currently ask ourselves one question. Will winter ever end? The onslaught of snow has been so relentless that some may wonder if global warming is really happening. Alas, Toronto is not the centre of the universe. The ice caps are still melting, Australia is drying up and malaria is on the rise.

But since winter is still kicking around like an unwelcome guest, I thought I’d focus attention this week on roadside salt and sand which help prevent nasty crashes and slips on the ice.

Salt and sand of course are not very nice for the environment.

Environmental Impact
Salt, a.k.a. sodium chloride, is mined rock salt that has been crushed, screened and treated with an anti-caking agent. It’s used because it lowers the freezing point of water. Sand, sometimes also used, contains carcinogenic crystalline silica.

Both substances damage soil, vegetation, water and pets, not to mention your boots!

To my shame, I bought salt last year in a panic and have been using it ever since. Last time I used it, I felt so guilty I decided to retire the rest of it. I will hand it over to the City of Toronto for safe disposal during Environmental Days this spring.

The Green Alternative
As if sensing my guilt, CBC-TV recently featured an Ottawa-based company, Earth Innovations Inc., which produces a green alternative to roadside salt and sand - Ecotraction.

Ecotraction is a green volcanic mineral that is proven effective in preventing wintry slips without poisoning and damaging anything. According to the website, it was developed when the “co-founder's dog Grover and two other dogs on his street died from cancer within a one month period. Veterinarians suggested that it may have been due to licking ice melting toxins from their paws after walks.”

You can pick up Ecotraction at Home Depot and other eco-friendly stores.

In the News

Earth Hour!
It’s coming. March 29, 8pm. Where will you be when the lights go out?

Don't burn food: biofuels standards now!
AZAAZ asks us to sign a petition for tougher standards on biofuels.

Carbon Output Must Near Zero To Avert Danger, New Studies Say

Climate change czar aims to paint province green
Ontario gets a climate change czar. Let’s hope this one fairs better than that of the house of Romanov.

1 comment:

Cheryl McNamara said...

Chandler Swain, my sister-in-law, asked me to post the following message she sent to me regarding roadside sand:

Gosh Cheryl, good to know about the sale and dogs paws!!! we'll be getting eco-traction poste haste.
Just a wee point incase you get feedback. Sand by itself ( not treated with the salt to resist clumping) is a very useful and benign substance and is used widely to enhance dense and heavy clay soils in organic gardening to improve drainage. The earth is mainly made up of feldspars and silicas. Only when silica is finely ground and the dust from it is inhaled is it cacinogenic. Its not even a toxic substance then, its just that the tiny silica fibres have a barb on them that get trapped in lung tissue causing irritation that eventually causes tumours. Different from radon gas or tobacco smoke which is a chemical irritant to the lungs. Sand particals themselves are too large to be inhaled. They have to be dust sized to be a problem. I guess there likely is a certain percentage of dust in that road sand come to think of it. Yikes!
I'm sort of sticking up for regular sand as i like it a the beach in particular. Sand is really not a bad egg, just its tiny ground down version. Miners get silicosis from drilling away at rock faces as the good old earth is kinda this big ball of silica. Its everywhere!

Anyhoo, love the blog and thanks for the reminder about the 29th. we shall have a walk in the moonlight perhaps.
Love Chandler