Evaluation of the Use of Vegetation for Reducing the Environmental Impact of Deicing Agents

Patricia J. Rice, Todd A. Anderson, Joel R. Coats

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This research project was conducted to evaluate the use of plants for reducing the environmental impact of aircraft deicers. Significant quantities of ethylene glycol-based deicing fluids spill to the ground and inadvertently contaminate soil and surface water environments. Comparisons of the biodegradation of 14C-ethylene glycol ([14C]EG) in rhizosphere soils from five different plant species, nonvegetated soils, and autoclaved control soils at various temperatures (-10 °C, 0 °C, 20 °C) indicate enhanced mineralization (14CO2 production) in the rhizosphere soils. After 28 days at 0 °C, 60.4%, 49.6%, and 24.4% of applied [14C]EG degraded to 14CO2 in the alfalfa (Medicago sativa), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and nonvegetated soils, respectively. Ethylene glycol mineralization was also enhanced with increased soil temperatures. Our results provide evidence that plants can enhance the degradation of ethylene glycol in soil. Vegetation may be a method for reducing the volume of aircraft deicers in the environment and minimizing offsite movement to surface waters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-176
Number of pages15
JournalACS Symposium Series
StatePublished - 1997


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