Tribes petition EPA to ban chemical toxic to salmon from tires

The Yurok, Port Gamble S’Klallam and Puyallup Tribes in Washington state are petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish regulations prohibiting the manufacturing, processing, use and distribution of tires with a chemical toxic to aquatic species. 

The petition was filed on Tuesday in Washington D.C. by Earthjustice on behalf of the Tribes. 

The petition notes that a chemical used by companies worldwide reacts with ground-level ozone, which breaks down into 6PPD-q- the second most toxic chemical to aquatic species ever evaluated by the EPA. 

The petition notes that exposure to 6PPD-q can kill coho salmon within hours and that the chemical is responsible for “urban runoff mortality syndrome,” which kills up to 100% of coho returning to spawn in urban streams. The Tribes contend that 6PPD in tires poses unreasonable risks to the environment, requiring the EPA to regulate the chemical under the Toxic Substances Control Act. 

The regulations the Tribes are seeking would require tire companies to offer consumers tires free from this chemical. 

Earthjustice attorneys noted that for many Tribal nations salmon and steelhead have been a foundational part of diet, culture and spirituality since time immemorial. Robust salmon stocks are also important to the national economy — supporting thousands of jobs in the commercial and recreational fishing industry.