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Is using used tires dangerous for health / nature?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 42
Location: New Jersey (for now!)
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Hello everyone,

This is quite a conversation . . . lots of good stuff.  To answer the original question "Is using used tires dangerous for health / nature?"  The answer is it depends.  Used tires exist and are in nature whether we like it or not.  Even if we could wave a wand and never produce another tire, we would still have to do something with the ones we already have.  I think it's better to use them wisely instead of just bury them and hope for the best.

My professional experience centers on construction, but I have a BS in chemistry from the University of Scranton.  Just based on basic chemical principals and as several others have noted, much of the damage done by tires is done when they're on the vehicles.  Think of when we started to find the plastic micro-beads from cosmetics in the Great Lakes . . .  Think of how many more tires there are . . . I agree that finding an alternative technology has to be part of the equation and the conversation.

I also agree that the recycling piece can be a double edged sword and should be done carefully, including how we reuse tires.  I see the potential for problems using tires in any application where they're exposed, especially if they're granulated because of the increased surface area.  However, I've looked at some scholarly studies that state that the risks are low. If you want to dig deeper, the rubber mulch study I've linked below has many, many references . . .  My understanding in a nutshell, is that most of the damage is done before the tires are off of the car.  Think about it . . . high heat and friction . . . most of the off-gassing occurs on the vehicle, but yes, it continues after the tire becomes waste.

All that being said I am a huge proponent of responsible reuse of tires.  There are just so many . . . we need to do something other than bury them en masse.

Some years before I started https://CruxHomes.com, I seriously pursued starting a home building business with tire bales.  I eventually came to the conclusion that not enough people were ready for that sort of thing and moved on, but I do have quite a bit to share on the matter.

Rammed earth tires are a very sound building material, but they take a LOT of labor and reuse relatively few tires.  I think there are better ways to reuse them and my personal fav is tire bales.  They reuse literally tons of tires and significantly decrease the surface area of exposed, slowly degrading tires. They are, however a more tech intensive way to reuse tires because they require a press to make and equipment to move . . .

As far as I can tell, the key to reusing tires safely is encapsulation.  Encapsulation is not perfect and if you don't want your house built out of tires, I get that, but I don't know of too many modern, manufactured building materials that don't give off something, so there are lots of personal decisions to be made there.

I personally would be comfortable living in a rammed earth tire or tire bale home, but you can be sure all of the tires would be encapsulated (probably in something cementitious).

Now that my two cents are out of the way, there is actually a LOT of relevant, truly scientific data out there, but you have to dig.  Please, don't take my word for it . . . go see for yourself!

Here are some resources (including links above with a couple of attachments):

http://dot.state.nm.us/content/dam/nmdot/Research/Tire-bale_FinalPPPresentation.pdf

http://dot.state.nm.us/content/dam/nmdot/Research/TireBale_Handbook_Final_Orig-PI.pdf

http://futurecubes.com/future-cubes

http://www.utexas.edu/research/ctr/pdf_reports/5_9023_01_1.pdf

http://lstire.com/Enviro-Block_Tire_Bales.html

https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/division/support/recycling/tirebales.html

http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheadername1=Content-Disposition&blobheadername2=Content-Type&blobheadervalue1=inline%3B+filename%3D%22Tire+Bale+Processor%2FEnd+User+Approval+Form.pdf%22&blobheadervalue2=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1251845576294&ssbinary=true

https://rma.org/sites/default/files/EPA_Scrap_Tire_Handbook_on_Recycling_Management.pdf

https://www.groundsmartrubbermulch.com/docs/resources/Evaluation-of-Health-Effects-of-Recycled-Waste-Tires-in-Playground-and-Track-Products.pdf

Links from above posts:

http://chbenson.engr.wisc.edu/images/stories/pdfs/Reports/UW-Madison%20Scrap%20Tire%20Reprints.pdf

https://www.irwinmitchell.com/newsandmedia/2016/june/widow-speaks-of-shock-at-finding-out-husbands-fatal-cancer-was-linked-to-career-in-tyre-industry-jq-140772

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1757501/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7272236

Bladder tumours in rubber workers: a factory study 1946-1995 - This link seems to work - https://academic.oup.com/occmed/article/54/5/322/1399587

https://cinemobileblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/praca-de-central-carapina-270517/

https://www.letsrecycle.com/news/latest-news/tyre-recycling-technology-successfully-tested-in-wales/

https://www.geologyin.com/2015/10/floridas-tire-reef-has-turned-into.html?m=1#OGwjiqIiL2UBjwBy.99




Filename: Rammed-Earth-Tire-Wall-Test.pdf
Description: Rammed Earth Tire Wall Test.pdf
File size: 5 megabytes
Filename: Tire-Bale-Engineering-Report.pdf
Description: Tire Bale Engineering Report.pdf
File size: 1 megabytes
 
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Oh, so they're only a little bit toxic? So how small would you have to be for this stuff to be lethal? ( EDIT: To be clear, I am talking about soil life, and compounds that, while not lethal, interfere with normal biology.)

To my mind, it's not enough that they don't just kill us, because they can kill microorganisms in the soil and affect the way our food and other things grow.

Asbestos can be "safely" used in many places because it is encapsulated in its processed state, but is illegal in many places because of danger of exposure over time with wear or at deconstruction.

I don't think the fact that there are a lot of them is a valid reason to spread that toxicity. It wouldn't even occur to us to treat toxic or radioactive waste that way.

I say encapsulate them. Dig a big hole in the middle of a desert and start encapsulating, maybe in bales for space and reduced surface area.

-CK
 
Cj Thouret
Posts: 42
Location: New Jersey (for now!)
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I appreciate your concerns Chris,

"so they're only a little bit toxic?"  Pretty much . . . the idea is to slow the release of the toxins in waste tires to the point where there is not a statistical difference between baseline prevalence of the toxins and the quantities present in the vicinity of the reused tires; so the people and microbes aren't being killed.  I think that's preferable to dumping them somewhere and hoping for the best or trusting that incineration outfits are going to scrub their exhaust properly.  It's also something that is readily and locally achievable while we're waiting for a cleaner recycling industry (like the tire distillation process) to ramp up.  Gabriel is asking for reasonable ways to reuse tires.

I get it . . . it's creepy and gross.  I do not blame you at all for not wanting to grow your food in tires or building your home out of them.  You have sound reasoning for your decision.

However, we live in a period of history where we have royally fouled up our planet in ways we are only beginning to understand.  Geologists have suggested that we are living in a new epoch called the Anthropocene because humans have had such a profound impact on the earth.  Contamination and toxins are virtually inescapable.  We have to make smart choices to mitigate the current circumstances and make better decisions to improve the path forward.  This will often necessitate choosing the lesser of evils.

Microscopic plastic particles in almost all water everywhere - https://orbmedia.org/stories/Invisibles_plastics

Synthetic particles as contaminants in German beers (24 of 24!) - https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19440049.2014.945099?journalCode=tfac20

Non-pollen particulates in honey and sugar - https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19440049.2013.843025

Microplastic contamination in an urban area: case of greater Paris - https://hal-enpc.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01150549v1

As humongous as the tire problem is, it's manageable compared to some of the other challenges we face.  If you look at the first few links I shared in my last post, they point to using tires as filler in concrete (less concrete is a good thing) and are applied to things like retaining walls for overpasses and erosion mitigation.  We can use tires in ways that are constructive (pun intended) and reduce the need for the use of new resources.  I'm not advocating spreading toxicity, I'm pointing to ways to take something toxic and make it manageable and useful.

I bought my house in NJ before I knew better, before I learned about sustainable homes and permaculture.  I live in a 1920's craftsman style bungalow with asbestos shingles no less!  My wife and I are actively working to move to a more hospitable place, but the whole world can't run and hide from our ecological problems; we must face them intelligently.  Most of us (globally) live in places where there is nowhere to run, urban and suburban, not rural.  I believe the people who care about and understand nature and our world the most will be the people who find, develop and introduce the practices that will correct our course.  I believe we must be relentlessly passionate about being good stewards of the natural world and dispassionately scientific always in our stewardship.
 
Chris Kott
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I can see the benefits to using tires as essentially rubber-coated rebar encased in cement.

I don't seek to sensationalise the issue. But the OP asks if using used tires is dangerous to health or nature. If they aren't absolutely 100% safe, then they are dangerous.

I think the safest approach is to sequester them away, like in big pits in deserts with appropriately low water tables, away from causes of environmental degradation. That way, when they can be recycled cleanly and completely into a cleanly-burning fuel or raw materials for advanced synthetics, it is easy to retrieve them.

I think that exploring mycoremediation is crucial, in the meantime, but there are so many safer choices, I don't see reuse of old tires as justifiable in a permacultural context.

-CK
 
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Spurred by this thread, Ive been looking around and found two ideas I had not seen before.
One is mechanical concrete:
http://www.mechanicalconcrete.com
Essentially the sidewall is removed and the tire is packed with fill.
The tire cylinders work to immobilize the fill,creating a superior road base.

The second is similar but more tire  intensive.
Cut the sidewall off of one tire.
Cut both sidewalls off of a bunch more,and cut the resulting cylinders to create strips of tread.
Take the those strips and fill the first tire with them till you  can't fit anymore.
Now you have a tire filled with more tire material.
Rather dense, durable and beyond cheap.
More cutting less digging.
 
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