Regulatory Scrutiny for Tire Additive Following Pleas from Indigenous Groups

by Sophia Chen
6PPD regulatory review

United States regulatory bodies have announced an examination into the utilization of a prevalent tire compound in response to an appeal by Native American tribes along the West Coast. These groups have advocated for a prohibition of the substance, 6PPD, due to its toxic impact on salmon species, particularly during their spawning migration.

The substance in question poses a critical hazard to aquatic life, especially to coho salmon, as it is transported from streets to waterways by stormwater. State authorities from Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut have also approached the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), emphasizing the compound’s excessive risk to their aquatic ecosystems and local fisheries.

In a recent move, the EPA agreed to consider the petition, initiating what could be an extensive regulatory process with the potential to outlaw the chemical. Tire producers are in the process of identifying safe and federally approved alternatives.

Joseph L. James, the Yurok Tribe’s chairperson, stated to The Big Big News, “The decimation of fish populations by 6PPD cannot be ignored. Such a deadly toxin should be absent from any river system that supports salmon.”

For six decades, 6PPD has served as a stabilizer in tire manufacturing and is also present in items like shoes, artificial turf, and playground surfaces. As tires erode, they leave behind rubber particles containing 6PPD, which subsequently transforms into a derivative, 6PPD-quinone, toxic to various aquatic species, with coho salmon showing heightened susceptibility.

Pacific Northwest and California tribes, whose cultural practices and diets are closely tied to the salmon, have long been champions for these at-risk species, contending with the adversities posed by climate change, pollution, habitat development, and obstructions like dams on their migratory paths.

Washington state scientists recognized the lethal consequences of this chemical on coho salmon in 2020 while investigating the struggles of recently restored populations in the Puget Sound.

Elizabeth Forsyth, an attorney for the environmental legal organization Earthjustice, representing the tribes, stated, “This marks an essential beginning in the control of a chemical that has wreaked havoc on the environment for a long period.” She further noted the global lack of awareness regarding the issue’s severity.

The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association has acknowledged the ongoing assessment for alternative compounds that comply with safety regulations, though a replacement has not yet been identified.

The Association warns that a hasty ban on 6PPD could negatively affect public safety and the economy. Meanwhile, the Puyallup Tribal Council has celebrated the EPA’s decision as a win for the salmon and interconnected ecological and human communities.

The EPA is slated to collect additional data by the next autumn to help shape forthcoming regulations and will mandate that 6PPD producers and importers submit any non-disclosed health and safety studies by the end of the following year. The timeline for a conclusive ruling remains undetermined.

Michal Freedhoff, an assistant administrator in the EPA’s office of chemical safety and pollution prevention, remarked, “The alarming population declines among these fish species call for our immediate action to mitigate environmental 6PPD-quinone and the use of its precursor, 6PPD.”

The EPA has yet to determine the potential effects of this chemical on human health.

Oregon State University’s associate professor and ecotoxicologist, Suanne Brander, commended the decision but also issued a warning that the harmful impact on salmon might derive from a range of substances, not solely 6PPD. She also expressed concerns about the chemical that may eventually replace 6PPD, emphasizing the broader issue of various pollutants affecting fish populations.

Thiessen’s report originates from Anchorage, Alaska.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about 6PPD regulatory review

What is 6PPD and why is it being reviewed by U.S. regulators?

6PPD is a chemical used in tires as a preservative and has been found to break down into a substance harmful to salmon and other aquatic life. U.S. regulators are reviewing 6PPD due to a petition from West Coast tribes who have highlighted its lethal effects on salmon populations.

Why are West Coast tribes concerned about 6PPD?

West Coast tribes are concerned about 6PPD because its byproduct, 6PPD-quinone, is deadly to salmon, particularly coho, as they migrate to spawn. Salmon are crucial to the tribes’ diet and cultural heritage, prompting their request to ban the chemical.

What actions might the EPA take following the petition to review 6PPD?

Following the petition, the EPA has begun a regulatory process that could lead to the banning of 6PPD. The agency will gather more information to propose regulations and require reports on unpublished health and safety studies of 6PPD.

What are the potential impacts of banning 6PPD on tire manufacturing and public safety?

A ban on 6PPD could lead tire manufacturers to find alternative chemicals that meet federal safety standards. However, the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association warns that a premature ban could negatively impact public safety and the economy.

What does the discovery of 6PPD’s effects on salmon indicate about environmental concerns?

The discovery of 6PPD’s lethal effects on salmon highlights the broader environmental issue of pollutants affecting wildlife. It suggests that the impact of chemical mixtures on aquatic ecosystems needs thorough examination, with a focus on finding safer alternatives.

More about 6PPD regulatory review

  • Understanding 6PPD and Its Environmental Impact
  • The Role of the EPA in Regulating Toxic Substances
  • The Significance of Salmon to Native American Tribes
  • Potential Environmental and Economic Impacts of Banning 6PPD
  • Exploring Alternatives to 6PPD in Tire Manufacturing

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SarahK November 5, 2023 - 4:44 pm

not surprised by this, chemicals in everything these days! we gotta be more careful about what we’re putting into our waters and into the earth

Linda_from_Seattle November 6, 2023 - 3:20 am

Its about time they did something, those poor fish. Been hearing about the salmon runs getting smaller, didn’t know tires could be part of the problem.

EcoWarrior92 November 6, 2023 - 6:51 am

This is a wake up call, folks. The salmon dying is just the tip of the iceberg. We need to reevaluate a lot of the stuff we’re using daily.

Mike Johnson November 6, 2023 - 10:30 am

i think it’s great that the tribes are speaking up for the salmon, shows how everything we do has a ripple effect, gotta think about the environment man

JonasT November 6, 2023 - 10:35 am

can’t believe 6PPD has been around for 60 years and we’re just now finding out it’s bad, what else don’t we know?


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