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Aircraft and runway deicers at General Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. 2. Toxicity of aircraft and runway deicers

November 3, 2009

Streams receiving runoff from General Mitchell International Airport (GMIA), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, were studied to assess toxic impacts of aircraft and runway deicers. Elevated levels of constituents related to deicing (propylene glycol, ethylene glycol, and ammonia) were observed in stream samples. The LC50s of type I deicer for Ceriodaphnia dubia, Pimephelas promelas, Hyalela azteca, and Chironimus tentans and the EC50 for Microtox® were less than 5,000 mg/L of propylene glycol. Concentrations up to 39,000 mg/L were observed at airport outfall sites in samples collected during deicing events. The IC25s of type I deicer for C. dubia and P. promelas were less than 1,500 mg/L of propylene glycol. Concentrations up to 960 mg/L were observed in low‐flow samples at an airport outfall site. Measured toxicity of stream water was greatest during winter storms when deicers were applied. Chronic toxicity was observed at airport outfall samples from low‐flow periods in the winter and the summer, with the greater toxic impacts from the winter sample. All forms of toxicity in stream‐water samples decreased as downstream flows increased.