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An Idea Born from a Neighbourhood Tragedy

In 2004, when our founder Mark Watson's 8-year old Cocker Spaniel "Grover" died suddenly from lymphoma cancer, he was heartbroken and saddened. Shortly thereafter when his neighbours 2-year old Labrador Retriever and a third neighbour's dog (an

11 year-old mixed breed) also suddenly succumbed to cancer, he became alarmed and committed to finding out more.

After discussing the string of pet deaths with his vet, he was referred to a veterinarian oncologist who suggested that the Lymphoma may have been triggered by a toxin in the environment. The oncologist mentioned that such diagnoses were on the increase and suggested that the cause could be linked to the toxins contained in the ice melting chemicals that were inadvertently licked from the paws of dogs after winter walks.

After some vigilant research Mark discovered that the rock salt used by his municipality on roads, was not the same as the salt served at the dinner table. Not only does un-purified rock salt contain traces of toxic heavy metals such as mercury and lead, but it is also frequently mixed with an anti-caking agent called ferrocyanide.

Apparently most municipalities in North America use ferrocyanide as an anti- caking agent to facilitate the spreading of rock salt and to prevent clumping. These ice melter toxins are known to irritate dogs who lick their paws after winter walks and ingest them in unhealthy quantities.

Important Links:

Is Road Salt a Major Carcinogen?
The Top Six Problems with Salt and Ice Melters
Dog Owners Being Warned of Road Salt Toxicity
Environment Canada Declares Road Salt as ‘Toxic’ Substance 2004
Road Salt May Cause Cancer – CBC News, January 2000
Pets for the Environment


A Word from our Founders

Mark Watson

“The sudden deaths of my dog and two others on my street began my dedicated search for a safer and natural alternative to preventing slips and falls on icy surfaces. There needed to be an option for consumers that would not be so deadly to our pets or destructive to our homes.

Today, I am proud to bring you EcoTraction, a cost effective, all natural volcanic mineral that provides incredible traction on ice and snow, and is proven safest for pets, plants and property. Have a fun and safe winter!”

Mark Watson, Co-Founder

Interview with Mark Watson, Founder on CBC Television


Marc Appleby

“After meeting Mark in 2005 and hearing his tragic story, I too became impassioned to find a natural alternative to ice melters that was both safe and effective. Our search yielded this unique green-coloured food-safe mineral that we found provides incredible traction on ice and snow, and its natural properties

allow it to actually benefit our environment regardless of where it ends up. Hands-down the greenest solution to preventing winter slips and falls, EcoTraction provides total peace-of-mind and I am proud to stand behind it. As both a dog owner and green activist, I hope my work through Earth Innovations can raise public awareness of the dangers to dogs from toxic ice melters, as well as help create sustainable winter traction strategies for homeowners and cities alike, in particular eliminating road salt use in environmentally-sensitive areas. Thank you for joining me this winter in keeping our environment cleaner, our sidewalks safer, and our dogs happier. Thanks for going green."

Marc Appleby, Co-Founder


The Top Six Problems with Deicing Salts & Ice Melters

Recent research estimates that every ton of road salt can cause between $500 and $2,000 in downstream damages to infrastructure, vehicles, property and the environment. Yet in Canada alone, we continue to dump annually over 5 million tons of salt and ice melters on our sidewalks and roads, and the United States uses a staggering 15 million tons. Some of the major problems caused by road salt and chemical ice melters are as follows:

Contaminates Groundwater

When salt & ice melters dissolve into ice and snow, they usually end up draining their dangerous toxins into soils, ponds and lakes, and city sewer systems. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have concluded that road salt contaminates drinking water supplies,

“…if salinity were to continue to increase at its present rate… many surface waters in the northeastern United States would not be potable for human consumption and would become toxic to freshwater life within the next century.”

-Taken from an abstract of "Increased salinization of fresh water in the northeastern United States"

Destroys Infrastructure & Property

Salt can damage concrete and corrode metals. The National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) states that,

“A number of factors contribute to bridge corrosion. One of the most common is the use of deicing salts on roads and bridges... The salts cause corrosion of the steel reinforcing bars and other steel components supporting the bridge. This form of corrosion is the main cause of concrete bridge deterioration.”

-NACE International/ White Papers : Bridge Corrosion

Ineffective In Very Cold Conditions

As per the Salt Institute, road salt stops melting ice or snow effectively below 15°F / -9°C.

Kills Lawns and Plant Life

In spring, homeowners are usually disappointed to find that the salt & ice melters they used in the winter have killed a section of their lawn and landscaping.

Harms Pets and Children

Ice melters are dangerous for pets and kids. Pets ingest large concentrations of these toxins when they lick their paws, and children can eat the chemically-dyed pellets that look like candy.

Provides Inconsistent Traction

Ice melters are not traction agents. They can actually reduce traction by leaving behind a liquid brine solution that refreezes, making roads and sidewalks even more slippery than before.

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