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Environmental Petition Copper Free Brake PadsIt is a very simple concept. Whatever goes down into our sewers and rivers finds its way back into our bloodstream and all other forms of life around us. Regardless of how removed we may have become from our resources (when’s the last time you visited your local public works facility), the runoff from our roadways will always end up coming back out of our faucets or into the food we eat.  As a deeply interconnected population we owe it to ourselves and our shared environment to look into the everyday processes that contribute to water contamination and realize the “quick fixes” that can reduce our impact on the most precious of earth’s natural commodities.

Following the lead of previous environmental whistleblowers like Upton Sinclair and Rachel Carson, Earthgarage has identified an easy fix towards reducing cultural toxicity in eliminating hazardous metals and chemicals, like copper in brake pads with our “Give Water A Brake” campaign. To help explain the process and reason for choosing to endorse national implementation of laws already on the books in California and Washington to legally phase out certain materials from the production what follows is an explanation of what you can expect to find in the dust (seen above) from wear and tear of your standard issue brake pads.  As precedent for our optimism on this issue, back in the mid 1990s manufacturer’s agreed to remove lead from the brake pads.  With your help we can bring our production line quickly into the more modernized and concerned year of 2012 and beyond.

Copper – This is the main one on the list and is released in the largest proportion. Although it may be one the essential nutrients in our bodies, the threshold of impact is black and white. The short-term effects of over exposure include intestinal disturbances while long-term exposure can cause a fatal break down of the liver and kidney.  Worse still, copper is highly toxic to fish, invertebrates, and zooplankton, the immediate “beneficiaries” of our brake pad dust, and can lead to “dead zones” when present (here is a sad story about how less than 50 pennies in a pond can kill off entire populations of fish).

Asbestos Fibers – Yes, this is the same asbestos we still spend millions on removing from our insulation every year.  As one of the most famous packaged and sold carcinogens, exposure is known to lead to mesothelioma as well as other forms of degenerative cancer. Classified as unsafe at any level, this composite of six silicates is deadly just when released into the air, yet with every push of the brake we release this into our waterways…really?

Kevlar – Exposure of kevlar can lead to skin rashes and respiratory degeneration in humans.  While these effects tend to occur on a small scale, kevlar can have very negative impacts on flora and fauna.  As a synthetic compound it will not biodegrade over time and remain in nature for generations.  It seems very possible that as we redesign the brake pad we could find another material (ceramic) to replace this potentially hazardous substance.

Those are the big thee ladies and gentleman.  You can read a report on the chemicals in brake pads here.  If you haven’t yet, please sign our environmental petition on the top right of this page.

I welcome any and all comments on this issue.  The larger the forum, the sooner we can anticipate effective change.


Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet