Toxicity and chemical composition of commercial road palliatives versus oil and gas produced waters

Across the United States, road palliatives are applied to roads for maintenance operations that improve road safety. In the winter, solid rock salts and brine solutions are used to reduce the accumulation of snow and ice, while in the summer, dust suppressants are used to minimize fugitive dust emissions. Many of these products are chloride-based salts that have been linked to freshwater salinization, toxicity to aquatic organisms, and damage to infrastructure. To minimize these impacts, organic products have been gaining attention, though their widespread adoption has been limited due to their higher cost. In some states, using produced water from conventionally drilled oil and gas wells (OGPWs) on roads is permitted as a cost-effective alternative to commercial products, despite its typically elevated concentrations of heavy metals, radioactivity, and organic micropollutants. In this study, 17 road palliatives used for winter and summer road maintenance were collected and their chemical composition and potential human toxicity were characterized. Results from this study demonstrated that liquid brine solutions had elevated levels of trace metals (Zn, Cu, Sr, Li) that could pose risks to human and environmental health. The radium activity of liquid calcium chloride products was comparable to the activity of OGPWs and could be a significant source of radium to the environment. The organic fractions of evaluated OGPWs and chloride-based products posed little risk to human health. However, organic-based dust suppressants regulated toxicity pathways related to xenobiotic metabolism, lipid metabolism, endocrine disruption, and oxidative stress, indicating their use could lead to environmental harm and health risks to operators handing these products and residents living near treated roads.



Work Title Toxicity and chemical composition of commercial road palliatives versus oil and gas produced waters
Open Access
  1. James Farnan
  2. John P. Vanden Heuvel
  3. Frank L. Dorman
  4. Nathaniel R. Warner
  5. William D. Burgos
  1. Rock salt
  2. Deicing
  3. Human health
  4. Dust suppression
  5. Toxicity
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Environmental Pollution
Publication Date July 19, 2023
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
Deposited March 09, 2024




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Farnan_et_al_2023_Env_Poll_O_G_co-products.pdf
  • Added Creator James Farnan
  • Added Creator John P. Vanden Heuvel
  • Added Creator Frank L. Dorman
  • Added Creator Nathaniel R. Warner
  • Added Creator William D. Burgos
  • Published
  • Updated Keyword, Publication Date Show Changes
    • Rock salt, Deicing, Human health, Dust suppression, Toxicity
    Publication Date
    • 2023-10-01
    • 2023-07-19
  • Updated