EPA, groups agree to cut copper in brake pads
WASHINGTON (Jan. 22, 2015) — Eight original equipment automotive and automotive aftermarket industry groups have signed an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Environmental Council of the States to reduce the use of copper and other toxic substances in brake pads.
The voluntary Copper-Free Brake Initiative calls for reducing the copper content of brake pads to less than 5 percent by 2021 and no more than 0.5 percent by 2025, the EPA said. It also calls for cutting the amount of mercury, lead, cadmium, asbestiform fibers and chromium-6 salts in brake pads.
“These steps will decrease runoff of these materials from roads into the nation's streams, rivers and lakes, where these materials can harm fish, amphibians and plants,” the agency said in a Jan. 21 news release.
The associations that signed the Copper-Free Brake Initiative are the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association; the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association; Brake Manufacturers Council; Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association; Auto Care Association; Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers; the Association of Global Automakers Inc.; and the Engine Manufacturers Association.
Steve Handschuh, president and CEO of MEMA, said the MOU provides consistent copper reduction guidelines and eliminates the potential for disparate state regulations. He noted the MOU was the result of a “proactive, collaborative effort by regulatory agencies, states, the automotive aftermarket and the motor vehicle industry to reduce copper in U.S. waterways.”
According to the EPA's Copper-Free Brake Initiative page, California and Washington already have laws requiring reductions of these substances in brake pads sold within their borders. The agency estimates that 1.3 million pounds of toxic brake dust were released into California's environment in 2010, and 250,000 pounds into Washington's in 2011.
The initiative includes:
- Education and outreach to facilitate nationwide reduction of copper and other substances in brake pads;
- Testing brake friction materials and constituents for alternative substances;
- Marking and labeling brake friction materials for content;
- Providing reporting registrars' and agents' contact information to manufacturers, suppliers and other industry entities; and
- Working toward achieving the goals of the Copper-Free Brake Initiative within specified time frames.
California and Washington passed laws in 2010 banning certain concentrations of harmful materials used in making brake pads that spurred trade groups and manufacturers to take efforts to meet the pending deadlines.
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