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  Geotimes - March 2007 - Anti-icers make airport runoff toxic
Anti-icers make airport runoff toxic

What keeps passengers safe when they fly in the winter may not be as safe for ecosystems. Researchers examining the environmental harm done by airplane de-icing and anti-icing fluid runoff have found that such runoff from airports located near bodies of water — including 45 of the 50 busiest airports in the United States — could spell trouble for aquatic ecosystems.

Although de-icer fluid is known to be toxic, de-icers have generally become less harmful since the mid-1990s, says Steven Corsi of the U.S. Geological Survey. But anti-icers — de-icers with additives that help the fluid stick to the surface and prevent the formation of new ice — have stayed just as toxic, he says. In a new study published in January’s Environmental Science & Technology, Corsi and his colleagues found that the additives used to make anti-icers are likely to blame for the high toxicity found in runoff at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wis.

The specifics of the toxicity are not known, however, because the specific formulations of the anti-icers and de-icers are trade secrets. The researchers are not only trying to find out exactly what the toxic effects of the anti-icers are, but also what chemicals are in the formulas.

Sally Adee
Geotimes contributing writer

For more about the anti-icers, read the original story posted online Jan. 29, 2007, in the Geotimes Web Extra archive at:

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