January 4, 2018 9:00 am

Is calcium chloride solution used on Edmonton winter roads pet-friendly?

Edmonton tries out a new solution on some roads this winter.

Global News
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That brine the city is using on Edmonton’s roads seems to be doing wonders for snow and ice removal. However, some dog owners are wondering if it’s doing a number on the paws of man’s best friend.

So far so good, based on calls to Edmonton vet clinics.

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Dr. Natasha Russell, a regular host of 630 CHED’s Pet Talk, said halfway through this pilot project season with the city, no one has come to the Delton Veterinary Hospital with related concerns. She credits years of public education that pet owners have paid attention to.

“Honestly, it’s nothing that I’ve heard any of my colleagues talk about either. A lot of people are now aware and they choose to buy pet-friendly de-icer for their own walkways.”

READ MORE: Scathing report shows flaws in Edmonton’s multi-million dollar sand recycling program

The brine the city uses is a variation of a commercial product that anyone could buy, said Mike Holliday, the sales manager at Kortech.

“It’s no different than the stuff that you’d buy in the store for de-icing your own personal sidewalk or whatever, right? So it’s not going to hurt a pet in any way.”

According to a city memo, the mix ratio Kortech created has:

  • 26 to 28 per cent calcium chloride
  • .25 to 1 per cent magnesium hydroxide
  • -5 to 8 per cent magnesium chloride/sodium chloride and potassium chloride
  • -64 to 66 per cent water

“The city’s application procedures are standard with public safety in mind as well,” Holliday said.

READ MORE: How to keep pet dogs happy and healthy in the winter 

A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) created for the city mentions “repeated exposure may cause skin irritation even burns.”

Russell said those information sheets “have a lot of details on whether these components were toxic.”

Scroll down to read the MSDS on the calcium chloride solution.

READ MORE: Edmonton to unveil massive policy change to snow clearing

Both Holiday and Russell agree giving your pet’s feet a quick wipe when you get home is the best remedy.

“So many of our pet owners are already doing that for lots of other environmental allergies that are out there like snow mould — lots of different things that can cause their doggies to have itchy feet,” Russell said.

And, if you go for a walk to counteract the extra eating you’ve done over the holidays…

“Your small doggies, you could always get more exercise carrying them down the street,” Russell joked. “It’s more of a walk for you than your dog, but that would be one way around it.”

The city said neither the 311 call centre nor social media representatives have fielded complaints on the issue.

READ MORE: Overnight snow, freezing temperatures lead to slippery Edmonton commute 

The city’s anti-icing project expands upon a pilot conducted in February and March 2017.

The product, which is applied in a thin layer once per snowfall, prevents the snow from sticking to the pavement, the city said. The product is meant to make it easier for crews to remove snow from the streets.

During the initial pilot earlier in 2017, the city said it found treated lanes stayed clear of snow and ice longer than roads not treated with the solution.

In November 2017, a spokesperson with the city’s Parks and Roads Services department said calcium chloride is less corrosive than traditional salt.

“And, we’re working with materials that contain a corrosion inhibitor,” Janet Tecklenborg said.

Material Safety Data Sheet on Edmonton’s anti-icing calcium chloride brine by Anonymous TdomnV9OD4 on Scribd

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