Recent research reveals that specially designed gardens can significantly decrease the presence of a toxic chemical associated with tires in our waterways. The study demonstrates that these gardens can reduce the amount of 6PPD-quinone, a chemical formed when car tires interact with the atmosphere, by over 90 percent. This toxic chemical enters rivers and streams through road runoff during rainfall and poses a threat to various fish species like coho salmon and rainbow trout.
Known as “rain gardens” or bioretention cells, these specially engineered gardens not only alleviate flooding but also act as a filter for contaminants found in road runoff. In a collaborative study with the City of Vancouver, Drs. Timothy Rodgers and Rachel Scholes from the University of British Columbia (UBC) investigated the effectiveness of a rain garden located at 8th and Pine. They conducted experiments by pumping 14,000 liters of water containing 6PPD-quinone into the garden for four hours. Regular testing of the water that drained from beneath the garden revealed that only about two to five percent of the chemical made it through, with approximately 75 percent being captured by the soil and plants.
Utilizing a computer model, the research team extrapolated their results and estimated that the rain garden could prevent more than 90 percent of the toxic chemical from directly entering salmon-bearing streams in an average year.
This breakthrough has significant implications for Vancouver’s Rain City Strategy, which aims to promote “green infrastructure” including rain gardens. Municipalities can utilize this research to determine the optimal placement of rain gardens, particularly in areas with high volumes of roadway runoff that flows into salmon-bearing streams. Implementing rain garden systems not only helps protect fish populations but also aligns with various municipal environmental goals simultaneously. According to Dr. Rodgers, “Anywhere where you know there’s salmon, you should be trying to direct that runoff as much as possible into systems like this.”
The findings of this study have been published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters.
Timothy F. M. Rodgers et al, Bioretention Cells Provide a 10-Fold Reduction in 6PPD-Quinone Mass Loadings to Receiving Waters: Evidence from a Field Experiment and Modeling, Environmental Science & Technology Letters (2023). DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.3c00203
Rain gardens could save salmon from toxic tire chemicals (2023, June 21)
retrieved 21 June 2023
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Shambhu Kumar is a science communicator, making complex scientific topics accessible to all. His articles explore breakthroughs in various scientific disciplines, from space exploration to cutting-edge research.