Tire dust pollution is a massive threat to marine life

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Tire dust becomes a massive threat to marine life as it spills from the streets into streams, rivers and oceans.

Source: CBS Los Angeles/Youtube

Coho salmon returning from the Pacific Ocean to creeks and streams in Washington state have been dying in large numbers for decades, The Guardian reported. Scientists could not determine what caused the deaths. They noticed that it always happened after heavy rains. They tested pesticides and ruled out disease, lack of oxygen and chemicals, but still nothing.

However, when they tested runoff collected from a nearby road and exposed it to salmon, the fish died within hours. This discovery eventually led them to test particles from car tires. From there, they identified the culprit, 6PPD-quinone, a toxic chemical that is the product of the preservative 6PPD. This is added to the tires to help them not fail.

Source: UW (University of Washington)/Youtube

Tire particles pollute the air, water and soil and contain a wide range of toxic compounds, including carcinogens. Emissions Analytics conducted over two years of testing and evaluation and found that tires produce over 1 trillion ultrafine particles for every kilometer travelled. The size of these particles is less than 23 nanometers and is a major public health concern due to the ease with which these tiny particles can enter our bodies.

Scientists now believe that tire particles are one of the most important sources of microplastics in the ocean. A world model 2017 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature estimated that tire wear is the second largest source of primary microplastics in the ocean after synthetic textile fibers. A report scientists across Europe in 2018 also found car tires to be a big source of microplastics and possibly nanoplastics. The average tire loses about 8.8 pounds over its lifetime, and 6 million tonnes of tire particles are emitted each year.

Regulations and car improvements in recent years have left the tailpipes of most newer cars emitting fewer emissions than ever before. Now the focus should be on tires and their pollutants. There are no regulations on the rate of tire wear and few regulations on the chemicals that go into the tires. Emissions Analytics has tested samples from over 40 manufacturers and hundreds of different tire models. Tires are usually made from synthetic rubber, which is derived from crude oil.

Microplastics have been found everywhere, from Mount Everest to ocean depthsand we even found it in the placentas of pregnant women. It’s more important than ever to move away from single-use plastic. Not only is it terrible for the environment, but now studies like this are revealing how devastating they can be for human cells. Through food, air, and other means, we are constantly consuming tiny plastic particles.

Some products you use or your habits can contribute to plastic pollution. Learn more about using tea bags, Q-tips, Laundry, Contact lenses, Shine, and Sheet masks pollute our oceans so you can make more informed decisions in the future. There are also many simple gestures and switches that can help eliminate plastic from our lives, including making your own beauty products, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, household cleanersusing jars, reusable bags/bottles/strawsand avoiding microbeads!

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