Managing the Effects of Magnesium Chloride on Roadside Vegetation

Focus Area

Construction and Maintenance Practices


Environmental Process, Natural Resources






1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

TERI Administrator Note (Feb 2009): Related Research: Impacts of Magnesium Chloride-Based Deicers on Roadside Vegetation; Transportation Research E-Circular Number E-C126 June 2008 – Surface Transportation Weather and Snow Removal and
Ice Control Technology

I. Problem Statement:

There has been increase in the use of Magnesium Chloride as a deicing medium in an effort to reduce the use of Sodium Chloride. While this seems to satisfy some environmental concerns there is no information regarding the lessening of impacts on roadside vegetation, the primary erosion control cover. MgCl2 is still a salt and appears and as such has the same impact on soils as other salts. Primarily the salt buildup, in the soil, decreases the moisture holding and absorption properties and therefore decrease plant moisture availability. The question becomes one of whether or not the use of MgCl2 is more environmentally sound from a maintenance point of view or simply a more expensive alternative that buys little in the way of environmental benefit.

II. Research Objective:

Research needs to be conducted to determine:
1. The relative impact of MgCl2 on roadside vegetation and structures.
2. These results need to be compared for cost and environmental benefit to determine if there is any real gain by using the more expensive alternative.

Suggested By

TRB Research Needs Database, AFB40, Landscape and Environmental Design