On December 3rd, 2020, a new study published in Science Magazine led by the University of Washington and Washington State University identified a ubiquitous chemical used in tire production is responsible for killing Pacific Northwest coho salmon each year.
The chemical is a highly toxic quinone transformation product of N-(1,3-dimethylbutyl)-N’-phenyl-p-phenylenediamine) (6PPD) and is used to protect tires from ozone, a reactive atmospheric gas.
Stormwater runoff from roads has caused this chemical pollutant to leech into local rivers at toxic concentrations causing death to adult salmon that return to their natal creeks to spawn.
“Coho salmon require clean, cool, and pristine waters to survive, which is often why they are the first to go when conditions worsen or pollutants are introduced,” said CalTrout Bay Area Regional Director Patrick Samuel.
There has likely been 95% or more decline in numbers since the 1960s in California due to dam construction and habitat degradation from various land-use practices. Toxic tire pollution is another threat added to the already long lost of myriad threats this species face.
The study found the toxin was highly deadly, killing some young coho salmon in just four hours when exposed to it.
This new information illuminates the need for clean water protections and the solutions to this problem will likely need to be approached using advocacy. CalTrout is aware of these issues and will continue to look into our legal options. Stay tuned for future Trout Clout action alert messages.