Canada: Tire residue in rain runoff kills fish in urban streams

Published Mar 17, 2022

Tridge summary

Residue from vehicle tires contains a chemical highly toxic to several important species of fish when it washes into streams, says new Canadian research. "It seems almost like the fish are suffocating from the inside," said University of Saskatchewan toxicologist Markus Brinkmann. "It's not the nicest thing to observe." Brinkmann's research has added to a growing body of research looking into the effect of tire residue when it enters the environment.

Original content

A link between fish fatalities and such residue was first revealed in a 2021 paper that examined deaths of coho salmon in Washington state in streams subject to heavy rainfall runoff from urban areas. That paper concluded the kills were due to a chemical called 6PPD-quinone, a contaminant formed from the residue tires leave on roads as they wear. Brinkmann found the same effects on rainbow and brook trout, two culturally and economically important fish widespread in North America. The chemical seems to inhibit breathing, he said. "There's plenty of oxygen (in the water). They seem not able to use the oxygen to do what a normal organism normally does, which is breathe." The fish appear to gasp. They swim erratically and in circles, then die. Brinkmann said the effects occur at very low concentrations, less than a millionth of a gram per litre of water. "That's a pinch of salt in an Olympic pool, basically." That much 6PPD-quinone can be found outside the lab. "You do find these ...
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