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You’re driving a car.  You come to a stop.  You accelerate only to come to a stop again. Stop-and-go is a normal part of driving. But did you know that every time you step on the brakes, you release toxic chemicals into the air?

When the brake pads squeeze your wheel, asbestos, copper and much more is released from the brake pad onto the road.  Copper sounds harmless, but that’s when it’s a penny or helping you light your house. But when you breathe it or eat it, it can be deadly. The copper dust that’s released embeds itself in the crevices of the road.  This means when water hits the road this copper dust washes away to our streams, lakes, rivers and oceans.

According to the State of Washington’s Department of Ecology, brake pads account to up to half of the copper entering our waterways. The Copper Development Association indicates that laws were put into effect in California and Washington to limit the usage of copper in brake pads.  One study cites anywhere between 35 to 60 percent of copper in California’s urban watershed was from brake pads. Further research from the Department of Ecology reports that copper is bad for the sensory systems of fish, which makes them more susceptible to be hunted by predators and prevents them from swimming upstream. Aggressive legislation will phase out the heavy dependence of copper in brake pads which take effect no later than January 1, 2025. One car coming to a stop has minimal environmental impact; when millions of cars are using not environmentally sound brake pads, this has negative effects on the environment and humans.

According to Lenntech, a water treatment solutions company, copper is necessary for human survival.  But in large quantities it becomes a detriment to health. Long-term exposure can cause irritation of the nose, mouth and eyes. Additionally, it can cause dizziness, upset stomach, diarrhea, and in extreme cases, death.  Copper can also be stored in soil, affecting the animals and humans that use the land.  Poisoning is rare and brake pads generally contribute less than other sources.  However if we do not keep copper levels in brake pads in check now, this will become an even bigger, more harmful environmental hazard later.

Brake pads are a small part of a larger equation that contribute to copper pollution. Being proactive about copper in our environment now will help save later generations from this hazard.  Please, sign the petition, found on the right hand side of the page. Take part in protecting our Earth!

Earthgarage – Greener car.  Fatter wallet.