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The harsh winters New Jersey has had in recent years have been rough on drivers. But there could be a lot more at stake for the state’s residents than slippery roads.

The rising use of road salt has been linked to lead contamination in drinking water – and New Jersey officials and advocates say they’re worried about the increased risk associated with using a substance that corrodes pipes and leaches lead into what we drink.

The state Department of Transportation recently reported that it used 4 percent more road salt by March 1 than it did in all of winter 2016-17 – and that was before at least four snowstorms wacked New Jersey and sent a lot more salt trucks out.

Advocates such as Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, note that corrosive water caused by high acidity or high chloride can increase the amount of lead that get into drinking water.

Acidic water tends to dissolve lead from pipes or solder into the water, and high chloride can make lead water soluble, according to the state Department of Health.

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