WBCSD research: tyre wear particles are safe
CEOs from 11 leading tyre companies have announced results from an international research project studying the potential environmental and health impacts of tyre materials and tyre road wear particles. The research reportedly shows that “there are no adverse effects from inhalation exposures to tire and road wear particles” and “the concentration of tyre and road wear particles in air and sediment were well below toxicity levels.”
The group of tyre CEOs of firms based in Europe, Japan, Korea and North America met outside Washington, DC on 7 October to review the project’s progress and set a forward-looking agenda for continuing research. The group formed the Tire Industry Project (TIP) in 2005.
Participating companies include: Bridgestone Corporation, Continental AG, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Hankook Tire Company, Kumho Tire Company Inc., Group Michelin, Pirelli & C., Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd., Toyo Tire & Rubber Company Ltd., and Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd. Bridgestone, Goodyear and Michelin have served as co-leaders of the group’s work to date. Representatives of tyre industry associations in Europe, Japan, Korea, and the United States also attended the meeting and have reportedly supported the group in its work.
Working under the umbrella of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), TIP’s goal is to identify and address the potential health and environmental impacts of materials associated with tyre production and use. Together TIP represents approximately 70 per cent of the world’s tyre manufacturing capacity. TIP retained ChemRisk, a San Francisco, California based risk assessment consultant, to assist with this work.
Following extensive toxicity testing of tyre and road wear particles (TRWP) in water and sediment, additional testing on airborne TRWP has now been completed. These tests showed no adverse effects from inhalation exposure to the TRWP. Environmental sampling for TRWP was conducted globally including locations on the Seine River watershed in France; Chesapeake Bay watershed in the United States; and the Yodo River watershed in Japan. The research showed the concentrations of TRWP in air and sediment were low and do not pose a health or environmental risk. Preliminary results will be presented at scientific conferences, with results to be documented and submitted for publication in peer reviewed journals.
Best practice guide for nanomaterial production
At the meeting, the CEOs also approved the development of an industry-specific best-practice guide for the research, development and industrialization of new nanomaterials. The CEOs have high expectations that the development of new nanomanterials in tyres will benefit customers and the environment, and understand the need to ensure that any nanomaterial use is safe for humans and the environment.
Potential improvements from new nanomaterials include increased car and truck fuel efficiency and durability, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions and tyre weight. TIP is exploring the development of this guide in collaboration with the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).
Almost 18 months ago TIP published information on international end-of-life tyre (ELT) management, and has worked with tyre industry associations to develop a manual for effective ELT management systems, released in 2010. This manual, endorsed by the TIP CEOs, is built on experiences in countries and regions where ELT management systems are in place, and has been actively distributed within the TIP companies and through national tire manufacturers’ trade associations. TIP is also actively involved in promoting effective ELT management in countries around the world.
An independent assurance group, brought together by the WBCSD, regularly reviews the work. Members of the group include Prof. John Spengler, (Harvard University School of Public Health), Dr. Raman Letchumanan (Asean Environmental Secretariat), Dr. Meshgan Alawar (Dubai Police Academy Research Institute), Prof. Michel Savy (Paris-Val de Marne University), and Prof. Taketoshi Taniguchi (Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry [CRIEPI] and University of Tokyo).