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Potential Water-Quality Effects from Iron Cyanide Anticaking Agents in Road Salt

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Water-soluble iron cyanide compounds are widely used as anticaking agents in road salt, which creates potential contamination of surface and groundwater with these compounds when the salt dissolves and is washed off roads in runoff. This paper presents a summary of available information on iron cyanide use in road salt and its potential effects on water quality. Also, estimates of total cyanide concentrations in snow-melt runoff from roadways are presented as simple mass-balance calculations. Although available infoffilation does not indicate a widespread problem, it also is clear that the water-quality effects of cyanide in road salt have not been examined much. Considering the large, and increasing, volume of road salt used for deicing, studies are needed to determine levels of total and free cyanide in surface and groundwater adjacent to salt storage facilities and along roads with open drainage ditches. Results could be combined with current knowledge of the fate and transport of cyanide to assess water-quality effects of iron cyanide anticaking agents used in road salt.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 1999

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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