For decades the United States has relied on application of road deicers for the purpose of winter road maintenance to provide safe transportation for the majority of U.S. commuters in northern states. Road deicers are a necessity but are linked to contamination of surrounding environments, including effects on water systems, vegetation, and soil quality. While sodium chloride is the most common road deicer, a variety of alternatives have been implemented. Each deicer alternative has different deicing abilities and a range of environmental impacts that, thus far, have primarily been compared during their application phase. This research conducts an environmental lifecycle analysis of four road deicers in order to incorporate the manufacturing, processing, transportation, and distribution phases along with the effects associated with the product’s end-of-life application. The four road deicers that are investigated include sodium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride acetate, and beet juice molasses (OBPE). They are evaluated based on a case study performed in Rochester, New York. This case study is used to represent population densities and environmental composition in regions where this research would be most applicable. This paper offers a framework to holistically compare environmental effects of road deicers pre- and post- application.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Roads--Snow and ice removal--Environmental aspects; Deicing chemicals--Environmental aspects

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Sustainable Engineering (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Industrial and Systems Engineering (KGCOE)


Brian Thorn

Advisor/Committee Member

Scott Grasman

Advisor/Committee Member

Scott Wolcott


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at TE220.5 .W37 2016


RIT – Main Campus