Tire chemicals found in waterways; urban runoff, the cause

USASK research reinforces San Francisco, Washington findings

University of Saskatchewan, School of Environment and Sustainability researchers have undertaken a first of its kind study in Canada to determine whether chemicals from rubber tires are entering waterways, endangering water quality and aquatic wildlife.

driving on wet road photo credit Nokian Tyres

The City of Saskatoon collaborated with the academic team to examine chemical leaching from rubber tires into the stormwater system and flow in the South Saskatchewan River.

Similarly, San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) scientists and Washington university researchers have been studying toxic tire-related water contamination related to stormwater runoff.

SFEI work initially focused on microplastics; nearly half of the pollution observed consisted of “black rubbery fragments believed to be from worn tires,” surprising lead author Rebecca Sutton.

The researchers estimated that rain is washing 300 times more plastic into the water than what enters through sewers and sewage treatment plants.

In January, 2021 scientists from University of Washington and Washington State University jointly published findings of tire preservative 6PPD-quinone and high levels of Coho salmon deaths in the journal Science.

In particular, the USASK study observed the issues within the context of a cold-climate Canadian city. Assistant Professor Markus Brinkmann said, “Chemicals from rubber tire leachate have been associated with mortalities in Coho salmon in Washington state.” However, the effects on wildlife in the Canadian region are unknown.