Tires cause pollution in the sea - little is known

Tires are made of natural rubber and rubber, so it is unlikely that it will be the culprit for spreading 28% of the total amount of micro-particles into the ocean, contributing to the increasing plastic pollution in the sea.

In 2014, biologist John Weinstein, Military Citadel University in Charleston, South Carolina, USA, and his students searched for microplastics and found them scattered throughout the environment.

Professor Weinstein's team found some evidence of microscopic particles being swept into the ocean. Much of what they collect comes from predictable, predictable sources, such as broken plastic bags. But more than half of the pieces are black, tubular and very small, with no apparent origin. This is a mystery.

Weinstein and his students searched around Charleston harbor for popular black plastic items, such as fishing nets, to study and compare. But in the end it is not the culprit. In the end, they found very similar cigar-shaped plastic pieces on a waterway, and they realized it was small car tires.'This is a surprise,' said Weinstein.

Picture 1 of Tires cause pollution in the sea - little is known
The tires on the wheels were abraded and thrown into small pieces on the road, the plastic in them washed out into the water, eventually finding their way to the oceans.(Illustration).

Many subsequent studies have also discovered this problem.Tires are actually one of the most common plastic contaminants on Earth. A 2017 study by Pieter Jan Kole at the Netherlands Open University, published in the International Journal of Environmental and Public Health Research, estimates that tires account for 10% of the total micro plastic waste. in the world's oceans. A 2017 report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature put that figure at 28%.

Tire wear has become a source of invisibility micro-plastics in the environment , Kole and co-authors wrote. However, at present, the people's awareness about this issue is low and actually the tires are irreplaceable.

What are tires made of?

For thousands of years, the wheels were made of stone or wood. After that, people wrapped a layer of leather on the wheels to go quieter, then gradually the skin was replaced with solid rubber. In the late 1800s, people invented cars and compressed air tires were invented not long after.

At that time, rubber tires were mainly produced from rubber trees, the planting of rubber trees led to mass deforestation across the globe. By the 20th century, cars became less expensive and increasingly popular, the world needed more rubber than was available. In 1909, German chemist Fritz Hofmann, working for the German chemical company Bayer, invented the first commercial synthetic rubber. Within a year, this material was used to produce car tires. By 1931, the American chemical company DuPont industrialized the production of synthetic rubber.

Today, tires consist of about 19% of natural rubber and 24% of synthetic rubber, which is a polymer plastic. The rest is made up of metals and other compounds. Tire production still has a major impact on the environment, from continuous deforestation to climate-damaging fossil fuels used to produce synthetic rubber. Producing modern car tires requires about 7 gallons (ie more than 26 liters) of oil, while truck tires take 22 gallons (i.e. more than 83 liters) of oil.

It is becoming increasingly clear that as rubber wears off, tires become bare of small polymer particles and flow from rivers and streams, polluting the ocean.

Jo Ty ​​Sousa, a marine plastic researcher at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, ranks very high on the dangers of microplastics from tires.

How do tires spread micro plastic particles to the water source?

Picture 2 of Tires cause pollution in the sea - little is known
Tires under the ocean.(Photo: Pinterest).

Tubeless tire models help to keep the traction of the car higher. But better grip can also mean more friction. And when we drive, the wear causes the tire pieces to peel off.

A 2013 report by Tire Steward Manitoba, in Canada, found that light passenger truck tires lost nearly 2.5 pounds (more than 1.1 kg) of rubber during use. Research shows that Americans produce the most tires per person and estimates that the total number of tires in the United States is about 1.8 million tons of micro-plastic beads every year.

Exactly how much of that waste flows into the waterway depends on many factors, Sousa said, from the location of the road to the weather at that time, if rain could cause many particles to flow into the water environment. Research on this topic is relatively new, he noted, so the situation could improve when more people join hands. But with millions of vehicles traveling on the streets every day, he said: 'you can hardly imagine the amount of microscopic particles of plastic released from tires'.

Once tire particles have merged into a river or ocean, they can significantly affect marine life. In the laboratory, when Professor John Weinstein came into contact with shrimp eating tire plastic particles, it was discovered that plastic particles were trapped in the gills of shrimp. After eating, the plastic beads are curled up in the shrimp gut.

The shrimp do not die immediately when they ingest the tire plastic, Mr. Weinstein said. There are long-term chronic effects that are currently not really studied.

Extend tire life

Picture 3 of Tires cause pollution in the sea - little is known
Handling waste tires without causing environmental pollution is a difficult problem.

Need to better understand what happens to the tire once it is put into use and need to handle it when the time is up.

The life of used tires can be extended in many positive ways. For example, recycling of tire scrap into products such as playgrounds, sports fields and construction materials has increased significantly over the years. The American Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) says that tire reuse increased from 11% in 1990 to 81% in 2017.

But that number comes with a big warning when many places recycle by burning tires to get energy.

According to Reto Gieré, an environmental scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, if the tire is burnt in tailor-made facilities, it can be done quite cleanly and is a good way to regain energy. But according to him, tires also contain high levels of potential contaminants such as zinc and chlorine, so if they are burned in mixed fuel facilities or without adequate protection, there is a risk. causing great pollution.

According to a 2018 USTMA report, tires that are not recycled or burnt are mostly located in landfills. From 2013 to 2017, the volume of tires handled at landfills nearly doubled each year.

What to do better?

For decades, people have not cared about redesigning tires, but recently there has been a greater effort to develop sustainable solutions. For example, in 2017, researchers led by the University of Minnesota found a way to produce isoprene, the main ingredient in synthetic rubber, from natural sources such as grass, plants, and corn instead of fossil fuels. . Last year, Goodyear revealed the idea of ​​a tire made from recycled rubber that adds moss in the middle to absorb carbon dioxide as it moves.

However, these new pieces of tires can also spread in the environment. Kole's research shows that reducing tire wear will likely come at the expense of other performance indicators, such as rolling resistance. This is a tradeoff that can make it difficult for manufacturers to accept.

Professor Weinstein proposes a different, less direct way to counter the tire plastic dispersion problem. According to him, the road surface could be made less abrasive or more porous, or the road surface could collect tire wear particles. He also believes that it is possible to find better technology to capture tire flow from the road to the river and into the sea. However, in general, what he finds most urgent is the need for more in-depth scientific research and awareness raising for the community.

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