Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | January 22nd, 2019
Muscatine County has come under fire recently for using hazardous material for their gravel roads.
The county has recently been using slag, a byproduct of steel mills, to cover small side roads. Slag is left over after metal refining and smelting, and typically contains a high calcium content that can neutralize acids.
The concern with slag isn’t its calcium content–it’s the traces of manganese. It’s an essential element for different processes in the body, but overexposure could lead to long-term health problems, especially if inhaled. The dust from slag also contains metals that can have adverse health effects for children and toddlers, who are generally more susceptible to issues from these trace elements.
In light of these potential hazards, Muscatine County is suspending the use of slag indefinitely while samples are analyzed for a health and safety evaluation.