Dangerous winter roads likely as road salt too poisonous for use: Salt supplier

A Rijkswaterstaat salt truck
A Rijkswaterstaat salt truck in February 2018Photo: @RWS_verkeer / Twitter

The Netherlands might not be able to keep roadways from icing over this winter, due to high levels of the chemical PFAS in the country's rock salt supply. Rock salt makes up the vast majority of the country's road salt supply, of which an average of 200 thousand tons is distributed every winter along Dutch roads, said Ardin Bos in an interview with the Telegraaf.

"If gritters are no longer always on the road during frost, freezing rain and snow, we have a problem," said Bos He is the director of of Zoutbank, a road salt supplier in the Netherlands. It could lead to motorists choosing instead to use the already-crowded public transportation system to avoid icy roads.

Initial testing of their stockpile produced unnerving results that suggest the salt cannot be used under new rules regarding the chemical contaminants. "Too high PFAS values have been measured, but we would like a second opinion," he said, saying a more precise analysis would be conducted this week.

"We also supply cleaner sea salt and vacuum salt, but there is not enough of that in stock," he told the Telegraaf. Most of their supply comes from mined rock salt imported from European countries and elsewhere, like Morocco.

There are thousands of perfluorinated alkylated substances, collectively referred to as PFAS. As the chemicals cause environmental damage and health problems, the issue of PFAS has been tied in with the nitrogen emissions crisis in the Netherlands.