January 2, 2009, - 11:04 am

Eco-Nuts Will Love This

By Debbie Schlussel
For years, environmentalists have decried the use of salt to treat snow and ice on roads and sidewalks. They say it gets into the water supply and lakes and kills the fish and other wildlife. While it does eat away at cars, nothing beats its effectiveness.
Last year, all the rage was using a substance made from beet juice, instead of salt, to melt clear the ice. This year, rock-salt prices are way up, and new alternatives are being tried. But I’d bet that none of these are as effective as salt. Apparently, the biggest rage this year is molasses, but the bottom line is that it still needs to be mixed with salt–and try getting that mixture off your shoes. And then, there’s garlic. But, even with an innocent substance like garlic, animals rights people and others are finding a problem:

Soaring rock-salt prices are prompting communities across the U.S. to try novel alternatives for clearing snow and ice, including molasses, garlic salt and a rum-production byproduct that smells like soy sauce.


Salt Reigns Supreme: Plowing & Molasses Alone

Won’t Make Streets Safe for Driving

Rock-salt prices normally surge in January and February, when communities running low on salt resort to buying the de-icing compound on the open market. But after last year’s fierce winter taxed supplies, state and local government officials ordered tens of thousands of tons more salt ahead of this season. The high demand pushed salt prices to $60 to $120 per ton in many places, from last year’s range of $30 to $50 a ton. . . .
Many towns are testing new methods to make their ice-fighting more efficient. . . .
This past summer, engineers in Ohio’s Hamilton County sought bids to supply about 15,000 tons of salt. . . . The county decided to try to make the 11,000 tons of salt it had on hand last for a winter of de-icing 1,500 miles of road lanes. To stretch it, Mr. Hubbard’s department has been mixing its salt with gritty, non-toxic ash left over from coal-fired power plants.
“When the sun shines on it, it helps attract radiation, therefore it helps melt the snow,” Mr. Hubbard said. “We’re sort of experimenting.” Mr. Hubbard said the ash mixture doesn’t melt the snow as fast, but it does add traction to the roads.
Ankeny, Iowa, a Des Moines suburb, sprinkled garlic salt mixed with road salt on its streets last month after a local spice maker gave the town nine tons destined for a landfill. Public Works Director Paul Moritz said some residents complained the fragrant topping would sicken their cats and dogs. He says he checked with a veterinarian, who told him the pets would have to swallow huge quantities to become ill.
“I don’t mean to be too flippant about it,” said Mr. Moritz, “but I don’t think any dog went out and licked up three blocks of streets.”
He says the garlic salt has been effective in clearing roadways.
Paul Simonsen, a maintenance superintendent for the Washington state department of transportation, has been mixing de-sugared molasses into saltwater, creating a gooey mixture that can keep roadways clear for three or four wintry days, he said.
The mix consists of molasses from a local supplier, calcium chloride and brine donated by a local dairy company. . . .
Pingree Grove, a village west of Chicago . . . for the first time paid $3.50 a gallon for 4,200 gallons of Magic Minus Zero, a de-icing compound made by Sears Ecological Applications Co., of Rome, N.Y.
The liquid, which is formulated from the leftovers of rum-making, is such an effective additive that Pat Doherty, Pingree’s director of public works, said the town has used less than half as much salt as it would have under similar weather conditions.

Hmmm . . . maybe we should invest in salt instead of gold.

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20 Responses

Just more faux enviro BS. As usual, there is no evidence of harm–merely speculation.
Compare this to EPA’s absurd assertion that second hand smoke kills (3,000-10,000, depending on source) per year.
Yet, when officials were asked to name only three of these people, they could not. Why? There were no actual dead people, it was simply a model.
Just more BS in a long, long list—
Banning DDT
Radon (again, no documented case of lung cancer from household radon exposure)
Global warming
When is the public going to wake up??

Red Ryder on January 2, 2009 at 11:27 am

I like salt. And the truth is, with the low sodium foods, I have to salt it up so it tastes like the real thing. Which kind of defeats having them in the first place. As for salt to de-ice the roads, one should note the Left doesn’t care if it makes driving and walking hazardous. Try walking on ice without shoes without ice soles or crampons and see how far you manage to go without injury – its very slippery. But to the eco-nuts, that’s a hazard we must learn to live with and the pagan worship of Mother Nature is exalted over and above concern for human life.

NormanF on January 2, 2009 at 11:28 am

Red Ryder:
I had a relative pass away from lung cancer. The surgeon stated it was from second hand smoke. She never smoked a day in her life. However, in her home and workplace smoking was rampant among others.
Was she just a “model”?

i_am_me on January 2, 2009 at 11:52 am

Although smoking is implicated in most lung cancers, it is by no means the only cause.
The surgeon can say whatever he wants, but proving etiology is another thing altogether. How come other members of the household did not also get lung cancer?
Correlation is not causation–but it sure is useful for scaring people.
Human cancer etiology and metastasis is vastly complicated. If it were not, the disease would have long ago been cured.

Red Ryder on January 2, 2009 at 1:46 pm

“To stretch it, Mr. Hubbard’s department has been mixing its salt with gritty, non-toxic ash left over from coal-fired power plants.”
Wow — that’ll make the invironuts go up in flames!

ob3 on January 2, 2009 at 3:11 pm

I heard on the radio that Seattle final got some sense and started using salt, because some of the politicians are running for re-election, and they finally clued up and realized they had to make the streets drivable.
There is no doubt that smoking, first & secondhand, is the primary cause of lung cancer. This has been so clearly established by the medical profession that it is a disservice to readers to suggest otherwise. Yes there are other causes, but the overwhelmingly dominant one is tobacco in all manifestations, including pipes, cigarettes and cigars. Cholesterol causes heart attacks. The fact that if two people eat the same thing & one does not get a heart attack does not invalidate this. As with anything genetics, past lifestyle (no two are identical) and just luck (e.g. where is the blood clot? In a vital area, or fortuitously perhaps not in a vital area?_

c f on January 2, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Hate to burst your bubble, but the cholesterol theory of heart disease was debunked about five years ago. Many references on this. Look it up. People began to doubt this crap when they realized that 60 percent of patients with heart attacks have normal cholesterol.
Please do not conflate first and second hand smoke. There is NO evidence on secondhand smoke, and that’s why the theory was thrown out in federal court.
Again, you can look up references here, but the 1993 EPA study was a meta-study, and they announced their results before the study was complete.
Secondhand smoke is not good for you, but it does not give you lung cancer either.
I am a non-smoker, but am also pro-Good science, and the EPA has never done good science, unfortunately. I say this as someone who has been on EPA dockets.
Here is one place to start–

Red Ryder on January 3, 2009 at 10:25 am

Such folly all of this developing “snow melting technology is! We should be fighting…uh, Global Warming.
Let’s start in the Spring when the snow clears.

P. Aaron on January 3, 2009 at 10:28 pm

[Red Ryder: The surgeon can say whatever he wants, but proving etiology is another thing altogether. How come other members of the household did not also get lung cancer?]
You can also say whatever you want, but “saying is not knowing” as you are amply proving. However a surgeon knows what he or she is talking about.
As for other members of the household, I mentioned nothing regarding whether or not they smoked and/or whether or not they also got lung cancer.

i_am_me on January 4, 2009 at 2:00 am

I have always had contempt for alternative health wackos on the left who have had strange and unproven theories about the almost magical properties of this or that food, or this and that supplement. Their theories are almost entirely anecdotal, and have virtually never been subjected to peer-reviewed evaluation.
Unfortunately, conservatism is not immune from the same types of theories. Unfortunately, some of these theories, like Red Ryder’s views about cholesterol have appeared in mainstream conservative publications over the years. They are so far off base that they discredit conservatives among people that might otherwise be receptive.
When I see things like what Red Ryder wrote, my first thought is that these comments are financed by the food or tobacco industries.
Virtually all studies of this type are tentative, since science hasn’t been refined to the extent that definitive results are known. In addition, the methodology of various studies is better or worse, depending on the finesse by which the scientists handle statistical assumptions. Finally, when the results are filtered by reporters, in many cases only semi-educated about the data they are reporting, the results are even more distorted.
However, the mass and volume of studies linking cholesterol with heart disease, and second-hand smoke not only with cancer (and not only lung cancer) but with virtually every other tpe of degenerative disease are so voluminous and authoritative, that to question these results takes the questioner outside the realm of serious discussion.

c f on January 4, 2009 at 8:40 am

In addition, anyone who keeps up with medical research knows several things about cholesterol:
a. The definition of ‘normal’ levels keeps going down. Right now, LDL above 70 is considered risky for many people, while older studies say that LDL of 130 or even higher is ‘normal’ (i.e. OK_. Also, since 2/3 of the population is now overweight or obese, ‘normal’ or ‘average’ is generally not healthy.
Also, we need to take into account analysis over the size of cholesterol particles and the result of inflamation, which many medical researches now consider in conjunction with cholesterol levels. Triglyceride levels, and numerous other factors also influence cardiac issues.
While absolute certainty is not now available, we should all, nevertheless, take advantage of the research now available, since we all have to live our lives in an uncertain environment. If we wait for absolute knowledge, we may, in the meantime, have done great damage to our health, using the rationalization that absolute certainty is not available. For instance, the research available, while not absolute, can safely lead us to assume that broccoli is healthier than sausage.

c f on January 4, 2009 at 8:45 am

Finally, remember the courts exonerated OJ and remember all the issues Debbie wrote about re court cases. Reliance on court decisions for health issues is foolhardy.

c f on January 4, 2009 at 8:46 am

i_am_me and cf
Keep drinking the Kool-Aid.
There are many, many mainstream papers debunking cholesterol, but just like it took “AMA-medicine” 15 years to admit that ulcers are mostly caused by helicobacter, it will probably be another 10 for the cholesterol thing to fall apart.
As to the surgeon “knowing what he is talking about,” other than speculation, how did he prove etiology? It is irresponsible in the extreme for a surgeon to posit etiology for a cancer patient.
Besides, since you know nothing of my background, what is the point of attacking it?
I’m sorry that you are so quick to believe the EPA “science” on this or any subject. Try getting on a docket and actually examining what they do. Believe me, you will get your feelings hurt. Routinely, their work is condemned by their own science advisory board.
I have to work with EPA all the time, and they are widely regarded as the very worst agency in town–and that’s saying something.
Your argument on courts is not quite relevant. In fact, there have been several court decisions that reversed EPA policy–and rightly so.

Red Ryder on January 4, 2009 at 10:07 am

RR did not comment at all on my criticisms of his/her woeful comments, except a jumbled comment re courts that ‘conflated’ to use RR’s term, my comments with those of i_am_me.
There are no, repeat no, mainstream papers ‘debunking’ (a strange term, since cholesterol, itself is not debunked — what would allegedly be debunked is the impact of cholesterol, not cholesterol itself. Please tell us specific references to these mainstream papers. The comments about ulcers are simplistic; although bacteria do play a role in some ulcer formation, the causes of ulcers are, like most degenerative diseases, multidetermined.
Of course surgeons can, in some cases, establish etiology in some types of cancers. It is known that diet plays a role in many cancers, as does obesity, and lack of exercise. (although there are some cancers where etiology cannot easily be established, if at all, lung cancer is, in general, one of the easiest to establish etiology; tobacco, tobacco, tobacco.
Just go to websites like those of Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Mayo Clinic, or Harvard Public Health, to gain a better understanding of the role of cigarettes in causing lung cancer, or the role of cholesterol in causing heart disease.

c f on January 4, 2009 at 11:09 am

It is ironic that you cite as authoritative an obsolete meta-study by EPA, an agency which you debunk in every other comment. First, 15 years is a very long time in health research; such a meta-study is obsolete. Second, meta-studies, by their very nature are open to statistical errors, both in terms of the studies consulted, and the methdology of the meta-study itself.
Also, the EPA Study was in 1992, not 1993. More importantly, it specifically did say that second-hand smoke was a general causative factor for lung cancer. Finally, although a lower court invalidated the EPA decision, a higher court subsequently invalidated the lower court.
RR is misleading or wrong on all counts, and any reader relying on RR’s statements is putting their health in jeopardy.

c f on January 4, 2009 at 11:18 am

Sorry, upon rereading, you do criticize the EPA across the board; however, if an agency is wrong on one thing, it does not necessarily make them wrong on everything. That is a logical error that a second-grader (at least some decades ago before the vast dumbing down that is reflected all too often) would have been able to spot.

c f on January 4, 2009 at 11:22 am

Like I said, keep drinking the Kool-Aid. EPA–an agency that I know only too well–has seldom been right in its entire history.
You might recall that the agency went against its own science advisory board at its founding to ban DDT. Auspicious beginnings–don’t you think?
Again, please do not conflate first and secondhand smoke. EPA meta-study routinely threw out results it did not like. Sadly, this is quite typical, and I saw that only last year in a docket on a very important hospital sterilant.
With the advent of Lipitor and related drugs, there is plenty of big Pharma money to do more “cholesterol is bad” studies. Meanwhile, there is plenty of damage done by these new drugs.
There is much junk science in formerly prestigious journals, and this makes getting the truth harder than ever.
As always, the epidemiology is the gold standard, and normal cholesterol in 60 percent of heart attack victims was a big, big finding.
Your other posts indicate that you are passionate and intelligent. I suggest that you look into these matters further.
Finally, there is no problem is posting etiology when warranted, but to blame secondhand smoke in the case of i_am_me’s relative was not justified. He COULD have done this to somehow ease the mind of the family, in providing a “reason,” but this is not sensible medicine.
38% of the population gets cancer, and in most cases the etiology is unknown.

Red Ryder on January 4, 2009 at 11:45 am

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to stop getting into mindless, interminable discussions, where the other person has a really ridiculous position, and will not acknowledge reality. The discussions never stop, and the other party always wants to have the last word, even if there are dozens of posts. But it is still the beginning of the year, and I have to work on it.
Of course you cannot cite any verifiable peer-review studies, because there aren’t any. DDT has nothing to do with this discussion, ‘normal’ cholesterol is not defined by you, not to mention not citing specific sources (there aren’t any reliable ones) for your statements. You ignore my comments about cholesterol size, inflamation and triglycerides, all of which are influenced by many of the same factors that influence cholesterol.
Are Harvard, Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins ‘formerly prestigious?” I should not have to say this here, but PC in some aspects of these institutions cannot be logically extended to cover their findings on heart disease without some support. Just like Debbie’s comments a few weeks ago about U of M engineering. The PC infestation in the rest of the university does not invalidate the engineering school.
Finally, statins work in general. Many cardiologists take them even before the advent of heart disease, as a preventive measure. Many of the studies about cholesterol are independent, and unfounded conspiracy theories about big pharmacy companies have about as much validity here as those of the anti-semites whose posts plague this blog.
I am aware of no damage from the anti-cholesterol drugs; a few patients have side effects of muscle aches, rarely serious, and they have saved countless lives. There is some preliminary evidence that they may also help prevent certain types of cancers such as prostate cancers, althugh these findings are very preliminary.
Comments about Kool-Aid are the types of comments someone makes to detract from the lack of substance in their posts.

c f on January 4, 2009 at 12:36 pm

No need for the discussion to be endless. Sorry you are unaware of consequences of anti-cholesterol drugs.
Is the above good enough for you??
You have *way* too much confidence in the institutions you cite. The only conspiracy here is mindless conformity to convention, and while you are immune to it in politics, you have it in health care.
I wish that conventional medicine were as good as you think it is, but it’s not.
This will be my last post on the matter.

Red Ryder on January 4, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Fastest recovery of sea ice levels on record. The Polar Bear population, (Which has INCREASED), can now reach seals as easily as before.

Johnny V on January 5, 2009 at 12:32 pm

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