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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday May 27 2020, @09:19PM   Printer-friendly
from the tyring-news dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

A major UK government-funded research study suggests particles released from vehicle tyres could be a significant and previously largely unrecorded source of microplastics in the marine environment.

The study is one of the first worldwide to identify tyre particles as a major and additional source of microplastics. Scientists have previously discovered microplastics, originating from microbeads in cosmetics and the degradation of larger items such as carrier bags and plastic bottles, in marine environments globally—from the deep seas to the Arctic.

Following the government's ban on rinse off microbeads, which is one of the toughest in the world, the Defra-funded study [Defra - Dept for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs] led by the University of Plymouth now reveals vital new information that will improve our scientific understanding of how tiny particles from tyres, synthetic fibres from clothing and maritime gear also enter the ocean.

[...] The study shows the tyre particles can be transported directly to the ocean through the atmosphere, or carried by rainwater into rivers and sewers, where they can pass through the water treatment process. Researchers estimate this could place around 100million m² of the UK's river network—and more than 50million m² of estuarine and coastal waters—at risk of contamination by tyre particles.

Its findings also highlight some of the optimal places for intervention, for example, that fitting filters to washing machines could be less effective than changing fabric designs to reduce fibre loss, with another study at the University having recently shown that normal wear and tear when wearing clothes is just as significant a source of microplastic pollution as release from laundering.

[...] "What this study also does is provide further evidence of the complex problems posed by microplastic pollution. We have looked at three pathways and shown that all of them are substantive pathways to the environment. As we work to understand their potential distribution and impacts it is important to also work together with industry and policy makers to identify potential solutions which may include changes in behaviour, changes in product design and waste management."


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Thursday May 28 2020, @12:55AM (5 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 28 2020, @12:55AM (#999999) Homepage Journal

    The highways have always been a major contributor of pollution. Road salts got a lot of attention, earlier than other pollutions. If you dump tons and tons of salt on the roads during the winter, to keep them ice-free, that salt rapidly runs off, and pollutes all the waterways nearby. We figured that out rather quickly (relatively speaking) and found other ways to improve traction on the roads - like sand and ash. Still somewhat polluting, but far better than salt!

    Rubber tires, now? Well, we wear out millions of tires every year. Tire comes from the factory, it weighs 25 pounds. When it's worn out, it only weighs 23, or maybe 22 pounds. Where did the rest of it go? Oh yeah - on the roadway. Yes, of course all that rubber and/or plastic is running off into the waterways. Where else is there for it to go? And, every bit of it is "micro". Natural rubber or plastic, it's all micro.

    In my mind, there isn't much "risk" involved here. It's a certainty that the rain carries most of that rubber down to the local ponds, streams, creeks, rivers, and eventually, most of it ends up in the ocean. In arid regions, all that rubber probably gets blown around by the wind, until it ends up in low spots, like ditches.

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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28 2020, @03:16AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28 2020, @03:16AM (#1000039)

    > Where did the rest of it go? Oh yeah - on the roadway.

    Some of the rubber dust may be eaten by bacteria, but a quick search suggests this only takes care of a minor portion of the rubber.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28 2020, @06:12AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28 2020, @06:12AM (#1000072)

    Would it be possible to add lead to the rubber compound in such a way that it wouldn't degrade performance too much? Leaching lead is far more efficient than micro particles - don't get me wrong, I like the micro particles - but how can we most efficiently trash every corner of the planet?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28 2020, @07:47AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28 2020, @07:47AM (#1000084)

      how can we most efficiently trash every corner of the planet?

      "Peaceful protest" [twitter.com]

    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Thursday May 28 2020, @09:07AM

      by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {asdf.fi}> on Thursday May 28 2020, @09:07AM (#1000104) Homepage
      Dioxins can be used to efficiently bond lead to rubber microparticles. The cyanide produced can be absorbed by bubbling it through mercury until it's saturated, and then that can be disposed of in the nearest body of natural water, or the drain, depending on which is closer.
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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by JoeMerchant on Thursday May 28 2020, @09:28PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday May 28 2020, @09:28PM (#1000290)

    Tire dust doesn't just runoff into the nearby environment, it also flies - and gets inhaled. Tire particles aren't as small or numerous as diesel soot, but they're much more interesting in what they do after being inhaled. Interesting is usually bad, in medical circles.

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