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Discovery of toxic chemical in tires spurs scientific and regulatory interest

The discovery of a mysterious chemical that kills coho salmon in urban streams is expected to spawn new research throughout the world while possibly inspiring new demands for protective regulations. The deadly chemical, associated with automobile tires, was identified by researchers at the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Waters, which is affiliated with the …

Stormwater picks up contaminants from vehicles. Photo: Daniel Parks (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/parksdh/7014755513

Could tire discovery go beyond impacts on coho?

Scientists have suspected for several years that chemicals from tire wear particles are to blame for the deaths of thousands of coho salmon that have returned to spawn in Puget Sound’s urban streams. Sometimes referred to as “pre-spawn mortality” or “urban runoff mortality syndrome,” these deaths typically occur in streams near roads, and scientists have …

Copper is being phased out of brake pads to reduce harm to salmon, other creatures

Manufacturers of automobile parts are facing their first deadline for removing copper from brake pads. Most seem to be well prepared to meet the new requirements under Washington state law. In 2010, Washington was the first state in the nation to outlaw copper in brake pads, after scientists discovered that the metal can severely affect …

A dying female coho salmon in the Lower Duwamish spotted by Puget Soundkeeper volunteers in October 2017. Photo: Kathy Peter

Chemicals from automobile tires suspected in coho deaths

Findings authored this month by University of Washington scientists at the Center for Urban Waters and their collaborators provide new insight into “urban runoff mortality syndrome” affecting Puget Sound coho.   By Jeff Rice Chemicals linked to automobile tires have been found in stormwater associated with the widespread deaths of coho salmon in Puget Sound. The …

University of Washington associate professor Ed Kolodziej

PSI collaborator receives NSF grant to study coho deaths

PSI collaborator Ed Kolodziej has received a $330,000 National Science Foundation grant to expand his research on toxic pollutants in Puget Sound. Kolodziej’s project will identify chemicals in stormwater that are killing coho salmon and endangering some spawning runs. The project includes a collaboration with citizen scientists who will alert project members to salmon die-offs …

Chinook salmon leaping at the Ballard Locks in Seattle. Photo: Ingrid Taylar (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/taylar/29739921130

New studies on emerging threats to salmon

Chemicals, disease and other stressors can increase a salmon’s chance of being eaten or reduce its ability to catch food. We wrap up our series on the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project with a look at some of the lesser-known, but still significant factors contributing to salmon declines in the Salish Sea. Read the story in …

A dying female coho salmon in the Lower Duwamish spotted by Puget Soundkeeper volunteers in October 2017. Photo: Kathy Peter

What makes stormwater toxic?

Stormwater may be Puget Sound’s most well-known pollutant, and at the same time its least known. While the state has called stormwater Puget Sound’s largest source of toxic contaminants, scientists are still having a tough time answering two basic questions about it: What is stormwater, exactly, and what does it do? Our magazine Salish Sea …