Fourteen members of Congress are calling for an investigation into effects of 6PPD-quinone, a highly toxic degradation product from tires and recycled rubber on endangered salmon, aquatic species and watersheds nationwide.
The House of Representatives members told the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the chemical may be contributing to widespread salmon mortality and would have profound implications for salmon recovery efforts.
“Given the dismal trajectory of West Coast salmon populations, your agencies should be working with great urgency to gain a better understanding of this threat and to take any necessary actions to address it,” they said in an Aug. 19 letter.
It was signed by California Representatives Jared Huffman, chair of the Natural Resources Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee; and Katie Porter chair of the Natural Resources Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. Also signing were Washington Rep. Marilyn Strickland, and 11 other representatives from Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington state.
The representatives posed seven specific questions, including how the agencies would evaluate the impacts of 6PPD-quinone of salmonids and other species, and how they are working with researchers and stakeholders to understand and address the impacts of 6PPD-qinone. They also asked what NOAA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were doing to monitor watersheds where 6PPD-quinone is present and to understand its impact on aquatic ecosystems.
“6PPD-quinone is a real major concern,” said Pam Miller, executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics, adding that there is established proof of its detrimental chemical impact on coho salmon, with the full extent of harm to salmon and other species remaining to be seen.
“There is still a lot that is not known and industry should be finding safe alternatives now, to prevent further harm to coho, aquatic species and the environment,” she said.
Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, was not among the letter’s signers, but said he takes the potential threat of toxic chemical on salmon stocks very seriously and continues to monitor legislative developments surrounding 6PPD-quinone. During a recent Natural Resources Committee hearing on chemicals and their effects on salmon, Young said, he called for greater research into 6PPD-quinone and its impacts on Alaska’s salmon.