Tire Company CEOs Push Ahead W/ Global Research Program on Potential Environmental and Health Issues

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

Washington, D.C. February 12, 2007 - The Chief Executives from leading tire companies in North America, Japan, Korea and Europe met February 9 in Los Angeles, to review progress and set a forward-looking agenda for their global research program dealing with potential environmental and health impacts of their products.

At their last meeting in Geneva in 2005, the companies funded an initial $1 million, independent research program to examine issues related to materials used in tire manufacturing, and the impact of tire-wear particles generated during normal product use. Working under the auspices of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) based in Geneva Switzerland, ChemRisk, a San-Francisco-based risk assessment consultant was retained for the initial work. They have now completed scoping work on these two topics, working in close cooperation with DIK (Deutsches Institut für Kautschuktechnologie), the German Institute of Rubber Technology. The result is a multi-year research program to address gaps in existing information on these topics.

An independent assurance group, brought together by the WBCSD, reviewed the scoping work in October 2006. Members of the group include Prof. John Spengler, (Harvard University School of Public Health), Dr. Raman Letchumanan (Asean Environmental Secretariat), Dr. Meshgan Alawar (Dubai Police Academy Research Institute), Prof. Michel Savy (Paris-Val de Marne University), and Prof. Akio Morishima (Institute of Global Environmental Strategies, IGES).

Over the next 12 to 18 months, the Companies will work with material suppliers to better understand the current potential and future risks for chemicals in tires, and perform sample collection and characterization of tire-wear particles found in the environment. By late 2008, this program should permit a more precise risk assessment of both concerns.

By taking an early look at these issues, these Companies want to understand more about the challenges they face, and formulate an approach to making the industry more sustainable by better assessing and managing impacts from its products and processes. Participating companies in alphabetical order include: Bridgestone Corporation, Continental AG, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Hankook Tire Company, Kumho Tire Company Inc., Group Michelin, Pirelli & C., Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd., Toyo Tire & Rubber Company Ltd., and Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd. Bridgestone, Goodyear and Michelin have served as co-leaders of the group’s work to date.

Representatives of the tire industry associations in Europe, Japan, Korea, and the United States also attended the meeting.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales.