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Toxic Road Run Off


In addition to the inadequate space for both vehicles and pedestrians around Hotel Lake, there can be inadequate space for proper storm water diversion away from the lake.  Recent studies are showing the serious consequences, dubbed “Urban Runoff Mortality Syndrome” (URMS), in the unchecked rain and storm water runoff from roadways located beside lakes. Studies in various locations in BC showed correlations between the concentration of hydro carbons in streamed sediment and the storm water and the density of traffic.


The three predominant hydrocarbon types found—xylenes and alkyl-substituted benzenes, alkanes, and high-molecular-weight unresolved complex mixtures—are consistent with petroleum or petroleum-product sources, indicating a vehicle-related source.

Road salt has been commonly used to de-ice roads for many years. Compared with the literature on other road-related contaminants, the literature on pollution of surface water and groundwater by road salt is voluminous (Forman et al. 2003). The use of road salt results in the accumulation of sodium and chloride ions in runoff, which increases concentrations of those ions in surface water above background concentrations and sometimes to unacceptable concentrations in drinking-water sources. The increase in the concentrations of ions reduce the soil’s ability for ion exchange, decreasing permeability and aeration, and increasing alkalinity of the soil.

And if all that unattended road run off pollution isn't enough, we are learning more every day:

Local resident Trevor Andrews submitted this article about a 2021 University of Washington research paper which identified a compound in tires (6PPD-Q) that is found in run off from roads and is detrimental to coho salmon.

Mystery Salmon Toxicant Identified – 6PPD-Q

“Urban Runoff Mortality Syndrome” (URMS) causes up to 90% of coho salmon to die before spawning in urban creeks impacted by stormwater runoff in the US Pacific Northwest, particularly in the Puget Sound region. For decades, scientists have been baffled by the cause of these high mortality rates, which occur after high rainfall events. In December 2020, a research group at the University of Washington reported some incredible scientific detective work that conclusively identified the mystery toxicant as 6PPD-Quinone (6PPD-Q).

6PPD-Q was shown to be acutely toxic to coho salmon at very low (sub-ppb) concentrations, but it is not yet known why other species of salmon, such as chum, seem to be far less sensitive to this chemical. The UW researchers identified 6PPD-Q in several streams in Washington and California, but fish-bearing streams around the world are likely to be impacted by this chemical, due to its ubiquitous nature and source.

Transformation Byproduct from Tire Anti-Oxidant

The source of 6PPD-Quinone, the newly identified toxicant, was confirmed by the UW researchers to be a byproduct of 6PPD, a widely used anti- oxidant which is added to car and truck tires at relatively high levels of 0.4- 2%. 6PPD is a very reactive compound, and is intended to preferentially react with ozone at the road surface to prevent tire degradation, to extend tire lifespan, and to improve tire safety characteristics. When 6PPD reacts with ozone, it converts to 6PPD-quinone.

"Much more research is needed to determine the toxicity impacts of 6PPD-Quinone to other salmon and aquatic species, to other ecological receptors, and even to humans."

"scientists have been baffled by the cause of these high
mortality rates, which occur after high rainfall events."

Is Road Runoff, Killing Fish?

Note: the following information was added in March 2023.


The 2021 University of Washington research paper identified a compound in tires adding to previous studies showing the serious consequences of “Urban Runoff Mortality Syndrome” (URMS), in the unchecked rain and storm water runoff from roadways located beside lakes and streams. 


Has any action been taken regarding unattended road runoff pollution that now includes 6PPD-Q? Well, after several years, we are beginning to see increased public attention.  Recently, the 6PPD-Q story was screened on Global News and many of us will recall the “Great Hotel Lake Pothole” story and how Global News tends to shake things up and make things happen around here!


The November 9, 2023 Global News story “Chemical found in tires suspected in West Vancouver death of salmon” can be viewed below. This report documents how local citizens of the Streamkeepers Society have stepped-up and are doing fish counts and taking water samples. Their findings are disturbing and can be viewed on the video link below.  In addition, there are reports of lawsuits against tire manufacturers in the USA..

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