Acid-washed sidewalks?

Concerned with chemicals used to clean Hoboken sidewalks

Hoboken resident Kevin (and others) have expressed concern about what agents are being used to “beautify” the city.

“I live on the 200 block of Washington Street. Every morning (7:15) when I walk my dog I see a staff member at Arthur’s scrubbing the sidewalk with a chemical. The substance produces white bubbles and they use it on the Washington and 3rd Street sidewalks. When I try to walk through this area the man instructs me not to let my dog walk in it because “it’s acid.” After scrubbing he then sprays the sidewalk down with a hose and the water runs into the nearest drain inlet.

I think (though I’m not sure) that Hoboken’s inlets go to local waterways. This doesn’t seem like a safe practice. If it’s dangerous for my dogs feet to touch this stuff, then it’s probably not a good thing to be putting into the Hudson.

I wonder if anyone has ever looked into this substance and what the health and environmental effects are. I have also seen an employee at Cucharamama using the same chemical once. Could this be safe?”

Hydrochloric Acid good for the environment?

Kevin followed up a few days later and said:

“I snapped this picture this morning (see above). You can see the white foam running over the curb. I didn’t get a chance to ask the guy what he substance is. I did some research online. It is most likely Muriatic Acid. This used to be a very common agent for cleaning sidewalks in the past. Muriatic Acid is just another term for Hydrocloric Acid.

I learned quite a bit here: naturalhandyman.com/iip/infxtra/infmur.html.

It’s considered one of the most dangerous chemicals available to consumers over the counter. If it is indeed Muriatic Acid it should not be put in the drain. Not only does it have environmental effects but it’s terrible for plumbing and erodes pipes and dissolves solder. It seems Hoboken has enough water main breaks without people dumping eroding chemicals into the pipes.”

How do you feel about these chemicals? Are clean sidewalks a must, regardless of how?

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9 Comments on "Acid-washed sidewalks?"

LobstaGirl
Member
LobstaGirl

Just think, if they have to use chemicals to get the food off the sidewalk, what is it doing to your stomach???

dflems
Member
dflems

Hydrochloric acid is actually exactly what your stomach produces to digest food. As for the cleaning, some places use this and others use bleach. It’s perfectly safe as long as they properly dilute it and wash it off the sidewalk when finished. As the the chemical getting into the sewers, it’s no different than bleach for cleaning/laundry.[quote comment=”209110″]Just think, if they have to use chemicals to get the food off the sidewalk, what is it doing to your stomach???[/quote]

escaped68
Member

There might be a simple answer to all concerned, you are listening to a person that is cleaning the floors and sidewalk of a restaurant. How bright can he be?? Chances are he can’t read the label of the cleaning product and for all you know he might be cleaning the sidewalk with warm stale beer. So don’t get your panties in a knot and look at the bright side he is cleaning the sidewalk.

Angry Bird
Member
Angry Bird

Huh? These are the concerns of observers- not those cleaning the sidewalks. One thing you are right about, though, is that this may not be an issue. That’s why it would need following up to see if Hoboken is enforcing where they need to be. [quote comment=”209100″]There might be a simple answer to all concerned, you are listening to a person that is cleaning the floors and sidewalk of a restaurant. How bright can he be?? Chances are he can’t read the label of the cleaning product and for all you know he might be cleaning the sidewalk with warm stale beer. So don’t get your panties in a knot and look at the bright side he is cleaning the sidewalk.[/quote]

trueblue11
Member
trueblue11

what’s wrong with just using water. Restaurants could get an inexpensive power washer and it would do a great job and use less water than just a straight nozzle on a hose.

iforgotmymantra
Member
iforgotmymantra

Actually it looks like Hoboken has a waiver to be in Tier B. That means it may share responsibilities with another municipal entity. This could quickly get complicated.

I do see A LOT of chemicals on the sidewalks though, and it makes me wonder.

iforgotmymantra
Member
iforgotmymantra

Hoboken most likely holds a Tier A Municipal Stormwater General Permit. That type of permit authorizes many types of discharges. This caustic stuff to clean the sidewalk is likely not “authorized.” Tier A municipalities are required to develop a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SPPP). Those interested should check out Hoboken’s SPPP (also who is the Municipal Stormwater Program Coordinator?) Also, how is our “Improper Disposal of Waste Ordinance” being enforced? Is the City managing this efficiently, or mis-managing this? Those would be my questions…

http://www.nj.gov/dep/dwq/pdf/tier_a_existing_final_full_permit.pdf

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