Where, Oh Where, Does the Rubber Go?

Throughout my time at RightTurn, one message in particular has been emphasized time and time again: tires do not last forever, so regularly check your tread depth! Of course this makes perfect sense, for the more you drive, the more your tires will wear.

Just the other day, I saw a great example of worn tires while in a parking lot with my family. I noticed that the car next to us had tires whose tread was so worn down that the tires appeared to be slippery and glossy. This made me wonder, where exactly does all of that worn-off tire matter go?

A quick Google search later, I found myself reading an interesting article from The New York Times.

It turns out that as tires wear down, the matter that is rubbed off from the tire (due to friction) turns into black dust. This dust, like most other debris, simply blends in with the road’s surface.

Though this inconspicuous dust may seem harmless, it actually contributes to a type of pollution called nonpoint source runoff pollution that can adversely affect our water supply. Though there isn’t much that can be done to prevent black dust creation, there are ways to build roads that may help prevent this pollution from contaminating water sources. For example, perhaps we should build roads with materials that absorb the pollutants? There are alternatives to solid concrete that better allow for absorption: bricks, flat stones, and crushed stone, for instance. Another idea is to add retention ponds that act as gutters to catch runoff coming from the road when it rains.

Do you think any of these options are feasible? Let us know in the comments section.