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Acute aquatic toxicity of tire and road wear particles to alga, daphnid, and fish


Previous studies have indicated that tire tread particles are toxic to aquatic species, but few studies have evaluated the toxicity of such particles using sediment, the likely reservoir of tire wear particles in the environment. In this study, the acute toxicity of tire and road wear particles (TRWP) was assessed in Pseudokirchneriella subcapita, Daphnia magna, and Pimephales promelas using a sediment elutriate (100, 500, 1000 or 10000 mg/l TRWP). Under standard test temperature conditions, no concentration response was observed and EC/LC50 values were greater than 10,000 mg/l. Additional tests using D. magna were performed both with and without sediment in elutriates collected under heated conditions designed to promote the release of chemicals from the rubber matrix to understand what environmental factors may influence the toxicity of TRWP. Toxicity was only observed for elutriates generated from TRWP leached under high-temperature conditions and the lowest EC/LC50 value was 5,000 mg/l. In an effort to identify potential toxic chemical constituent(s) in the heated leachates, toxicity identification evaluation (TIE) studies and chemical analysis of the leachate were conducted. The TIE coupled with chemical analysis (liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry [LC/MS/MS] and inductively coupled plasma/mass spectrometry [ICP/MS]) of the leachate identified zinc and aniline as candidate toxicants. However, based on the high EC/LC50 values and the limited conditions under which toxicity was observed, TRWP should be considered a low risk to aquatic ecosystems under acute exposure scenarios.

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The work presented here was funded by the Tire Industry Project, an international consortium of 11 tire manufacturers, collaborating to understand the human health and environmental impact of tires, under the auspices of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The authors would also like to acknowledge Ana Barbur from Akron Rubber Development Laboratory and Klaus-Peter Glaeser from Bundestalt für Straßenwesen for their contributions to this work.

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Correspondence to Julie Panko.

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Marwood, C., McAtee, B., Kreider, M. et al. Acute aquatic toxicity of tire and road wear particles to alga, daphnid, and fish. Ecotoxicology 20, 2079 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10646-011-0750-x

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  • Tire
  • Particle
  • Daphnia
  • Pimephales
  • Sediment
  • Toxicity