Changes in salt and deicing data

Departments - Notebook

Clear Roads takes over the qualified winter snow and ice control products list from the Pacific Northwest Snowfighters group. Are standards on the horizon for commercial contractors?

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October 15, 2019

© Iakov Kalinin | adobe stock

The following was accidentally dropped from Rob English’s State of Salt report, which appeared in the last issue of Snow. Here’s the missing content in its entirety.

There is on-going and increased interest in the quality of products which we put down for winter snow and ice control.

With upwards of 25 million tons of road salt and related products hitting the North American environment each year, focus on products that contain unwanted contaminants is a growing area of focus and opportunity.

Specifications for road salt used by commercial snow and ice management companies are generally on the order of “whatever you have” with few commercial contractors even looking at quality and getting certificates of analysis for the products that they buy.

Be aware that municipal government is continuing to work hard to develop a set of standard specifications for products used in winter maintenance that are fully qualified by third party labs and for compliance with certifications. To that end, the Pacific Northwest Snowfighters have maintained a list of qualified winter snow and ice control products.

As more and more states and municipalities that are not located in the Pacific Northwest have tried to use their standard, they are now moving all of the certifications and specification work to Clear Roads.

For those of you unfamiliar with this group. Clear Roads is a national research consortium focused on rigorous testing of winter maintenance materials, equipment and methods for use by highway maintenance crews.

Since 2004, Clear Roads has grown to include 36 member agencies, each contributing $25,000 annually to fund research and technology transfer efforts. Representatives from the participating departments of transportation meet twice a year to discuss and prioritize projects, share effective practices, and review research results.

Other activities include

  • Evaluating winter maintenance materials, equipment and methods under real-world conditions.
  • Developing specifications and recommendations.
  • Studying and promoting innovative techniques and technologies that will save agencies money, improve safety and increase efficiency.
  • Supporting technology transfer by developing practical field guides and training curriculum to promote the results of research projects.

While this new control group will likely have little to no impact initially on commercial snow fighter use of winter ice control products, the direction on a national scale with Clear Roads seems to be gaining traction.

To that end, Clear Roads issued the following notice in early August of this year:

“For many years, the Qualified Products List (QPL) maintained by the Pacific Northwest Snowfighters (PNS) association has served as a resource for agencies across the country, identifying deicing chemicals and additives that meet established standards for corrosiveness and impact on the environment.

“As the QPL continues to grow, Clear Roads will be overseeing the product testing and administration for the list, which is now called the Clear Roads QPL.”

We encourage all parties to keep an eye on the Clear Roads QPL and to understand if your suppliers have products meeting this standard. This may help in cases where you have environmentally sensitive properties and snow removal needs and want to present options under a 3rd party certification for the suitability of winter products for your use.

Refer to the following links for more information on this new group that will oversee the former PNS qualified products lists:




© Iakov Kalinin | adobe stock

Another Salt Problem

Researchers investigate a link between rock salt use and declining monarch butterfly populations.

In addition to increased salinity in freshwater habitats, road salt may now be the culprit for plummeting monarch butterfly populations.

It's one theory University of Minnesota researchers are investigating, according to a recent Star Tribune (Minneapolis) article (http://bit.ly/2ZHvbXJ)

The hypothesis is that road salt in roadside soil gets stored in the leaves of milkweed, the food source for monarch caterpillars. High levels of sodium can impact muscle development and even poison monarchs. However, studies have found that modest amounts can increase muscle growth as well as brain and eye size, all factors critical in migration.

According to the article, researchers are trying to determine how sodium levels impact monarch’s monumental migration from points north to locations west of Mexico City, and if there's a direct impact on population levels.

© Iakov Kalinin | adobe stock



BrightView Expands In Snow, adds New York’s Pro Scapes to its winter footprint

BrightView Holdings got a bit bigger in the snow market last week when it announced on Aug. 30 the acquisition of Pro Scapes, a commercial landscaping company headquartered in Jamesville, New York. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Pro Scapes began as a one-man operation in the mid-1970s. Under the leadership of founder Rick Kier and his wife, Karen L. Kier, the company grew to become a leading grounds care provider in central New York. In addition to snow, the company and its approximately 150 employees provide grounds maintenance and irrigation services to customers across commercial and industrial properties and upscale condominium complexes in Onondaga County.

“We are excited to welcome Pro Scapes, its employees and their customers to BrightView,” said Andrew Masterman, BrightView president and CEO. “Over the years they have invested in developing operational processes, customized technological solutions and employee training programs that fueled their steady historical growth. In addition to bringing our best practices to bear in the strategically attractive market of Central New York, I am certain that BrightView’s existing operation will learn many of Pro Scapes’ secrets for success, especially in their snow removal business.”

Enter http://bit.ly/30U3nNg into your browser for the rest of the story.




The Fast and Furious

Congrats to Chuck Lantzman and his team at Snow and Ice Management Co. for being named one of the Fast 50 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. They also ranked No. 5 on our 2019 Top 100 list. Keep up the good work! You can check out the Pittsburgh Business Time’s profile of Snow & Ice Management Co. here: http://bit.ly/30Rxyoc

Kudos also goes out to 2017 Leadership Award recipient Jason Case and his team at Case Snow Management (No. 3 on this year’s Top 100 list) for earning the No.1 spot in its revenue category on The Providence Business News’ list of fasting growing companies. According to PBN, the N. Attleborough, MA snow-only firm has grown from nearly nothing in 2009 to just north of $42M in 2018. Check out the PBN’s story here: http://bit.ly/2n4VZzt

Lastly, Happy Anniversary to 2019 Leadership Award recipient Jim Biebrach and his team at Wheeling, Ill.-based Snow Systems (No. 6 on this year’s Top 100 list) for celebrating four decades in snow and ice management. Jim got his start with a single plow truck during the winter of 1979 and has built it into an industry leading company. Check out his story at http://bit.ly/19LeadershipBiebrach