Toronto water

Almost all of Toronto's river water is contaminated with road salts even during summer

Turns out the salt dumped all over Toronto's streets during the winter is ruining more than just your favourite pair of jeans.

A new study published by the University of Toronto has found that Toronto's rivers are contaminated with road salt, even during summer months long after the ice has melted.

Of the 214 sites sampled in the study, 89 per cent of them exceeded federal chloride guidelines of 120 mg/L during summer, with several sites having concentrations over 1000 mg/L.

Of the sites that didn't test over the threshold, most exist upstream from urban areas.

"Road salt runoff is a leading cause of secondary freshwater salinization in north temperate climates," the study claims. "Our results suggest that even presumed low seasons for chloride show concentrations sufficient to cause significant negative impacts to aquatic communities."

The Humber River, Don River, Etobicoke Creek, Mimico Creek as well as their feeding streams and outlets were all exmained throughout the study.

Up to two-thirds of all aquatic life in some of these areas are being threatened by runoff from road salt applied during winter months. The high chloride levels may be lethal to many species while impacting the liveable habitat of others.

Toronto water

As Toronto warms up and signs of Spring approach, it's important to remember how much wildlife exists within this city and consider steps that must be taken to protect it.

Being salty may be an online synonym for being upset, and right now no one is saltier than our aquatic friends.

Lead photo by

Olivia Little


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