Do you remember Earth Day in elementary school? Where you will learn all about how plastic straws hurt turtlesand how you can save fish by cut the rings on your Coke six pack. But the next day, the cafeteria’s new paper straws would magically turn back to plastic, and the VHS of Captain Planet and the Planeteers would return to the TV cart hibernate another 364 days. We all learned the little things we could do as individuals to help the planet, but the larger structures of our young lives remained unchanged.
Now, another established global structure threatens the environment: that of the manufacture of car tires. An additive called 6PPD, which was recently found to have harmful effects on Salmon and trouthas now made its first appearance in the Southern Hemisphere, contaminating Australia’s waterways.
6PPD, the additive in question, is not harmful to fish per se. It is however extremely useful in the tire manufacturing process. 6PPD helps tires last longer by slowing down the rubber dry rot process. It repels ozone and oxygen, widely considered the enemy of us alland the American Tire Manufacturers Association claims that there is “no known alternative to 6PPD that offers the same safety and performance features in a tire”.
Despite its resilience, however, ozone and oxygen are the loss of 6PPD. When the additive reacts with these atmospheric gases, it forms a new compound called 6PPD-quinone. This the compound is highly toxic to salmon and troutand can contaminate entire streams which would otherwise be hot spots for fish. After its initial discovery in Seattle, the compound has subsequently been found in Canada – and now as far away as Australia.
While studies have shown concentrations of 6PPD-quinone in Australia similar to those responsible for killing Seattle salmon, no research has yet conclusively shown that the compound has a detrimental effect on wildlife in the country. According to scientists who spoke to Guardian Australiathat research is their next step.
Elementary Earth Day was about showing all kids how we can make a difference for the planet and have a positive impact on this ever-changing world we live in. But if your conclusion was that systemic changes matter much more than individual changes, you’re on the right track. If you care about the impact of 6PPD-quinone on wildlife, there’s no additive-free tire you can go out and source ethically. Your only option to tell the difference is to just don’t drive.
Read the original article here