ODOT and PSU prof concur on potential of magnesium chloride to damage vehicles

April 22, 2011

In a mid-April special report produced by television Channel 2 (KATU), a Portland State Professor confirmed that the magnesium chloride used by the Oregon Department of Transportation to make highways safer for driving during and immediately following severe storms can damage motor vehicles.

"Chloride is a bad actor, and can be pretty corrosive", said Professor James Pankow, PhD, in an on-air interview, and his assessment was corroborated later in the same report by an ODOT spokesman, who advised motorists to "rinse your car off" after exposure to such chemical agents.

The problem with rinsing at home, however, is that the runoff can escape into storm drains, where the harmful chemical can eventually find its way into rivers and streams, thus posing a threat to plants and aquatic life.

At Kaady Car Washes, on the other hand, all overflow is safely diverted into the water treatment system …a fact that may explain why the KATU reporters were more specific in offering their own recommendation to motorists: visit a car wash frequently.

(click here to view the report)

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