Chemicals used to clear Moscow's streets of snow have put the capital on an environmental collision course.
Ecologists estimate that up to ten times the normal levels of melting re-agents have been spread on city streets, creating a highly toxic, uniquely “Moscow” sludge.
The sludge could cause irreversible damage to the city’s greenery, believes Dmitry Khomyakov, a specialist from Moscow State University’s soil faculty.
“The effects will become visible when spring arrives in town,” Khomyakov told RIA-Novosti. “Most of the poisonous snow will be taken away by the city’s utilities service, but some of it will inevitably harm the soil and kill Moscow’s trees and bushes.”
The re-agents used in Moscow are composed of industrial salt, calcium chloride, sodium formate and potassium chloride or potash. The last-named, a type of fertilizer, is considered a poisonous chemical and should not be used within the city.
Worse, once the mix dries up, it evaporates and is inhaled by unsuspecting Muscovites. The dangerous fumes can cause different breathing issues, including asthma and other allergies.
Also likely to suffer are the pets of the city’s residents. This year Moscow’s ecological department strongly recommends pet owners buy their furry friends special boots to wear in winter.
Meanwhile, local authorities say that without chemicals to melt the snow the city simply would be gridlocked with traffic jams.
“Moscow is the world's northernmost megacity,” Anton Kulbachevsky from Moscow’s ecology department told RT. “We have no other choice but to use the de-icing agents, because we need to take care of safety on the roads. The white residue on pavements is nothing but ordinary chalk powder and, it will be washed away in spring. Our tests in 2011 didn’t confirm there was any environmental hazard, neither for the land, nor for water or urban plants. As for animals’ paws – well, protect them with special clothes.”
By posting your comment, you agree to abide by our Posting rules