WASHINGTON D.C. — The push to find an alternative to the tire antidegradant 6ppd — an additive deemed critical to consumer safety but whcih can transform into an offshoot chemical fatal to some fish species — continues for the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA).
The group said Nov. 15 it will partner with the U.S. Geological Survey in a 10-month joint research project intended to "assess and refine methods of evaluating potential alternatives to 6ppd for use in tires."
"Every day, with every partner we can, USTMA is pushing forward in the industry's effort to identify potential alternatives to 6ppd, and we recognize that additional research is necessary," USTMA President and CEO Anne Forristall Luke said.
"As USTMA continues its mission of advancing sustainability in the tire industry, our work with USGS will break new scientific ground, benefiting the environment, communities, researchers and manufacturers alike."
According to academic studies that took place in 2020 at the University of Washington, the antiozonant and antioxidant 6ppd at some point becomes 6ppd-quinone during tire abrasion when it interacts with ozone.
Stormwater runoff, which contains both tire wear particles (and therefore 6ppd-q) as well as road-related particles, ultimately finds its way into the streams and waterways of the region, killing coho salmon and "other salmonids."
Announcement of the USTMA-USGS partnership comes eight days after two Pacific Northwest fishing groups, under the counsel of the Seattle-based non-profit Earthjustice, sued the 13 North American USTMA member companies for immediate injunctive relief from any further commercial use of tires containing 6ppd.
The Nov. 8 lawsuit was filed under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act.
In addition, the U.S. EPA on Nov. 2 granted a petition submitted in August by three Pacific Northwest Indian tribes affected by the waning numbers of coho salmon—and other fish species—caused by 6ppd-quinone.
The EPA's approval of the petition essentially means the organization will engage in a science-based rulemaking process in regards to 6ppd, using the Toxic Substances Control Act as guidance.
6ppd has been used to increase tire endurance and decrease the likelihood of cracking in motor vehicle tires since the 1970s.