Scientific Study Links Tire Preservative Chemical 6PPD to Fish Deaths

Yesterday, Science published a peer-reviewed scientific study linking 6PPD, a common rubber antioxidant chemical found in tire preservatives, to coho salmon mortality in the Pacific Northwest. The New York Times, Seattle Times, and other media outlets covered the study. 

The authors of the study published in Science concluded that the 6PPD from the tires reacts to form 6PPD-quinone, which is toxic to salmon. Although most commonly used to increase the life of tires, 6PPD is also found in other rubber consumer products, such as the seals of pressure cookers and crumb rubber used at playgrounds and soccer fields. 

Given the significant media attention and the chemical’s ubiquity, we anticipate that state and federal regulators will face pressure to identify regulatory options to evaluate the risks associated with 6PPD’s use in products that involve environmental releases. We also expect attention on manufacturer sourcing and substitution strategies. And, as in other instances where a chemical is newly identified with natural resources damages, there may also be private litigation brought against product manufacturers.

Separately, the study may increase recent attention to the environmental effects of additives in plastics and other polymers that may be released from marine plastic litter in connection with use or disposal of polymer products.

Beveridge & Diamond's Chemicals and Litigation practices are closely tracking the potential legal issues associated with 6PPD developments, and have deep regulatory and litigation experience addressing emerging contaminant risks for industrial and municipal clients. Please contact the authors or your usual B&D contact with any questions.