Posted on 6th February, 2012

Antifreeze and the environment

As the cold snap grips the country we are all working hard to minimise disruption to our normal lives. With this current bout of icy conditions forecast to last weeks the use of anti-freeze will rise rapidly. Anti-freeze is used in many transport modes including cars, planes and even the airport runways. This is the reality of modern life but what implication does this chemical have on the environment?

Although anti-freeze will naturally breakdown within a few weeks it is important to acknowledge that by this point the damage can have already been done. Anti-freeze spilt on gardens will kill most plant life and an estimated 10,000 cats and dogs are accidentally poisoned annually. High concentrates of anti-freeze released into the watercourse can damage the natural eco systems and kill fish. Toxic levels can be found in high volume traffic areas such as runways and motorways.

Obviously the airports and highway agencies have to use large quantities of antifreeze and grit in order to keep the country moving, unfortunately these chemicals move from tarmac to the earth and drains very quickly and once mixed with water can be very hard to detect to ensure safe disposal. Current detection systems can be expensive and ineffective and many agencies are looking at ways in which we can reduce the impact anti-freeze has on the environment.

Unknowingly to many consumers there are two kinds of anti-freeze; there are propylene glycol based products, which are biodegradable, anti-corrosive, and recyclable, and work just as well as the highly toxic ethylene glycol antifreeze. The difference being is that the second of the two is slightly cheaper. Our advice too all consumers is to ensure you use propylene based products and ensure that any waste anti-freeze is disposed of correctly.

The Environment Agency has produced a guide for business in the storage and disposal of anti-freeze with the use of drain sealants and secondary containment systems in order to prevent leaks. For more information click here.
For more information on anti-freeze detection and disposal please contact us.

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