After Salmon Deaths, EPA Takes Aim at Toxic Chemical Issuing from Car Tires


The Environmental Protection Agency will review the use of a chemical found in tires that has been linked with the deaths of salmon on the U.S. West Coast.

Spurred by a petition from West Coast tribes, the EPA will study the impact of the rubber preservative 6PPD with an eye to potentially banning its use. Through normal wear and tear, tires shed tiny bits of rubber rich in 6PPD. The preservative reacts with ozone pollution to form 6PPD-q, which is toxic to fish. Rainfall washes the chemical from streets and parking lots into streams and rivers. In the Pacific Northwest, 6PPD-q has proved deadly to coho salmon.

“These salmon and other fish have suffered dramatic decreases in population over the years,” EPA assistant administrator Michal Freedhoff, said in a statement. Addressing the use of 6PPD, he said, “is one way we can work to reverse this trend.”

Last year, California regulators directed the tire industry to seek out substitutes for 6PPD. The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association said that it is studying potential alternatives.

The Puyallup Tribal Council, one of the groups that pushed for the EPA review, called the news “a victory for salmon,” adding that banning 6PPD in tires would “be hugely important in protecting fish.”


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