6PPD set for priority assessment to determine toxic potential, says Environment Minister

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Winter tire. Detail of car tires in winter on the road covered with snow. Panorama, banner
6PPD is an antidegradant that flakes off rubber tires onto roadways and activates as a toxin by ozone. This oxidation process creates 6PPD-quinone, which can end up in stormwater drains or urban rivers with lethal effects for fish species such as coho salmon even at very low concentrations. Photo Credit: alexanderuhrin, stock.adobe.com

Environment and Climate Change Canada will add 6PPD, a chemical tire preservative that can create a byproduct toxic to Pacific salmon, as a priority for assessment, the department’s minister told a group of environmental advocacy organizations lobbying for federal action on the chemical.

The assessment will fall under the department’s proposed Plan of Chemicals Management Priorities being developed under section 73 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Any subsequent plan, according to Minister Steven Guilbeault, will be published for consultation in summer 2024 and finalized by June 2025.

The assessment will determine whether 6PPD is toxic or capable of becoming toxic under CEPA and could proceed to regulatory intervention.

“The longer this process takes, the longer 6PPD will cause mass die-offs of this keystone species,” announced Ecojustice lawyer, Daniel Cheater, in a statement. “Coho salmon need swift action to ensure they are given a fighting chance.”   

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6PPD is an antidegradant that flakes off rubber tires onto roadways and activates as a toxin by ozone. This oxidation process creates 6PPD-quinone, which can end up in stormwater drains or urban rivers with lethal effects for fish species such as coho salmon even at very low concentrations.

The deaths of some 40 coho salmon in Brothers Creek near West Vancouver was attributed to the tire preservative in late 2023.

Environmental law advocacy group, Ecojustice, sent correspondence to Environment and Climate Change Canada in February on behalf of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, and the Pacific Salmon Foundation. Ecojustice says this is the first time the Section 76 amendment to the CEPA legislation has been used to successfully request prioritization.

In response, Guilbeault told the groups that Environment and Climate Change has been busy studying and monitoring 6PPD for some time, but will now add the chemical for priority assessment.

“To ensure that the best available scientific information is taken into account, the Government of Canada is in contact with international counterparts and the scientific community as a whole,” wrote Guilbeault. 

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