Tire Industry CEO Meeting


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Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846

WASHINGTON, D.C.June 13, 2008 – Tire company CEOs acknowledge positive results on international industry research program studying potential environmental and health impacts on tire materials and tire roadway particles

CEOs decide:

  • Further work on tire materials will be conducted individually within the EU REACH program
  • US$2.2 million additional funding for the study of tire wear particles due to its complexity.

The Chief Executive Officers from leading tire companies in the United States, Japan, Korea and Europe met June 12 in Tokyo, to review progress and advance their multi-year research program studying potential environmental and health impacts of their products. The work is organized under the auspices of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) based in Geneva Switzerland, a non-profit organization known for its work with global businesses on critical environmental and social issues.

During the past 16 months researchers focused on two key issues: improving understanding of the materials used to make tires, and studying tire wear and roadway particles generated during normal vehicle use.

For the first issue, they completed preliminary exposure assessments for tire materials selected from a list of commonly-used tire materials on the basis of their physical/chemical properties and known gaps in exposure data. These independent assessments showed sufficient margins of safety for human health based on screening models. Further analysis of these materials will be carried out individually by the tire companies and their suppliers under the European Union’s REACH program for registration and evaluation of chemicals.

For the second issue, researchers collected particles using a specially constructed system mounted on a passenger car and truck driven over French roadways. In addition, laboratory generated particles were collected inside road simulators in Germany and Sweden which used tires moving on real sections of road pavement and simulated driving courses.

Preliminary analysis shows the roadway particles collected using passenger car and truck vehicles to be a complex mixture of rubber from many tires mixed with road debris including dust, fuel residues, brake lining residue and small stones. Environmental testing shows no acute environmental toxicity from tire wear or roadway particles. Testing of particles smaller than 10 microns for human health impact will be conducted. The results and conclusions from the tire wear particle research will be presented at upcoming scientific conferences.

“The ability to collect and analyze small and airborne particles is extremely complex and it is important to undertake further study to fully understand the potential impact,” said Howard Klee, director of the WBCSD Tire Industry Project.

Reports will be available on the WBCSD website (www.wbcsd.org) at the end of July.

The CEOs approved additional work at a cost of US$2.2 million over the next 18 months during which time the companies will expand the information obtained so far, collecting additional particle samples, conducting additional testing, and identifying a way to track any airborne tire wear particles in the environment.

An independent assurance group, brought together by the WBCSD, reviewed the scoping work in October 2006 and research progress in April 2008. Members of the group include Prof. John Spengler, (Harvard University School of Public Health), Dr. Raman Letchumanan (Asean Environmental Secretariat), Dr. Meshgan Al Awar (Dubai Police Academy Research Institute), Prof. Michel Savy (Paris-Val-de Marne University), and Prof. Akio Morishima (former Director, Institute of Global Environmental Strategies, IGES).

Participating companies include producers from Europe, Japan, Korea and the United States: Bridgestone Corporation, Continental AG, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Hankook Tire Co. Ltd., Kumho Tire Co. Inc., Groupe Michelin, Pirelli Tyre SpA., Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd., Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd., and The 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 the United States, Japan, Korea, and Europe 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.