Trace metals in Northern New England streams: Evaluating the role of road salt across broad spatial scales with synoptic snapshots

Mobilization of trace metals from soils to surface waters can impact both human and ecosystem health. This study resamples a water sample archive to explore the spatial pattern of streamwater total concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, and zinc and their associations with biogeochemical controls in northern New England. Road deicing appears to result in elevated trace metal concentrations, as trace metal concentrations are strongly related to sodium concentrations and are most elevated when the sodium: chloride ratio is near 1.0 (~halite). The authors' results are consistent with previous laboratory and field studies that indicate cation exchange as a metal mobilization mechanism when road salt is applied to soils containing metals. This study also documents associations among sodium, chloride, dissolved organic carbon, iron, and metal concentrations, suggesting cation exchange mechanisms related to road deicing are not the only mechanisms that increase trace metal concentrations in surface waters. In addition to cation exchange, this study considers dissolved organic carbon complexation and oxidation-reduction conditions affecting metal mobility from soils in a salt-rich environment. These observations demonstrate that road deicing has the potential to increase streamwater trace metal concentrations across broad spatial scales and increase risks to human and ecosystem health.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • © 2019 Jessica F. Wilhelm et al.
  • Authors:
    • Wilhelm, Jessica F
    • Bain, Daniel J
    • Green, Mark B
    • Bush, Kathleen F
    • McDowell, William H
  • Publication Date: 2019


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Serial:
  • Publication flags:

    Open Access (libre)

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01707575
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 28 2019 2:49PM