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Is using used tires dangerous for health / nature?

 
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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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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
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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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I bought some of those hoses that are made from recycled tyres.
After reading this thread, i'm thinking that I've made a mistake and will have to find a different way to irrigate while absent.
The hoses smell like tyres too.
 
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Reduce ReUse Recycle... then maybe ReThink whether I need a thing so much.

In the case of tires, maybe trying to get by with an average of one car per household is a good first goal (currently it's 1.88 per household).

Reduce
ReUse
Recycle
Rethink

maybe Regret should go on that list somewhere
 
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John Schinnerer wrote:I love how these topics go around and around and after 20 years the same guesses and assumptions live on and nobody seems to know about resources equally old.



I also like how these things go around. We used a lot of tyres to berm behind our water tanks and wine cellar before covering with clay and less than ordinary soil.  We now have a very good thermal layer on the west side, shielding the hot western sun.
Not far from us is a green tyre recycling plat.  This is a link to a YouTube video of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0jQSZgpdzU
This is the business site: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-02/recycling-australias-tyre-piles/11169386

We breath loads of tyre particulate when we travel because it is aerosolised due to the action of the tyre traction on the roadway material.  This is particularly in the case of concrete roads.  The use of recycled tyres in roadway construction means that two like compounds are interacting with each other and in theory giving less aerosilising thus increasing tyre longevity = less pollution.

Tyres replace mulch.  We cut the wall out of nearly 1,000 tyres to line our driveway and are planting out a hedge in Australian natives.  The tyres act as mulch and force the roots down so that they are less affected by heat stress.

Tyre discussions have a life of their own, whether in the affirmative or the negative, each side can sight articles, research or opinion either way.  IMHO, only time will tell and I hope that the argument for the negative is not the winner.
 
Chris Kott
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I constantly come up against arguments that sound like, "Well, we already intake so much of x, why would I spend any time trying to intake less x?" Your personal reduction efforts of whatever contaminant it is could literally be the difference between your body being able to deal with the toxicity itself, and overwhelming it to the point of disease and death.

I personally prefer organic mulch to bits of tire. I prefer the smell of drying organic debris to that of rubber bits offgassing.

And as to the concrete versus chopped up tire roadbed issue, I prefer dirt and gravel corduroy roads. I think if we could add biochar to the roadbed mix, it would have a huge capacity to absorb/adsorb the contaminants coming off vehicles whether they're conventional ICE or electric.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have anything against tires, except that they offgas and break down in the environment and toxify stuff that I would rather keep clean. I'm sure there's lots of things they can be used for, but I'm more sure that there's a better alternative in almost every instance. I am sure that one day, those good solutions will be discovered. If, of course, an effective way to thermolyse them into their constituent parts happened first, or a way to incinerate at a sufficiently high temperature that all that remained was water and carbon dioxide, then it might not be necessary.

Almost time to switch from my winter tires, I think.

-CK
 
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It is not about judgment harmful or not.
The issue is quantifiable.
Leachates from scrap tyres may be highly noxious to human if he is permanently exposed a source of high concentration.
The issue is we do not know what possible reactions of de and re-composition are possible to occure  in various environmental conditions.

Tiny example.
It took decades o find out what was killing trouts in Canada.
It turned out it was the allegedly safe antioxidant agent p-Fenylenodiamin 6PPD.
after it got oxydised it was converted otno  chinon 6PPD a poison to aquatic life
We are unsure but seems fungi are capable of decomposing tire using hydrocarbons while transporting all heavy metals into parts of its hyphae thus creating ares of high concentration.

BTW. I follow  GDT on facebook. Unfortunately Having asked them about hourly dioxin emissions from pyrolysis process I got no any answer.
It is worth of reminding it was Australians who first started building artificial reef from scrap tyres which was supposed to be a solution to landfilling.
the process of removal was pretty costly to a taxpayer
 
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I just read this post and stepped back to take a look at the issue. If those tires being utilized weren't on my property they'd be someplace else being a burden on someone else. Whether grinding them up, piling them up or utilizing them somewhat wisely they are going to be with us.
I have a pile of used tires.  I've cut the side walls off some and use them as dead weights to hold down tarps and things like that. Drive some nails through a couple of them and bend them over good to double the weight.
The tread part is used for planters. I'm trying to figure out a better use for the tread part, maybe if I cut it in half to make one long tread...siding for an outbuilding like a well house? Any ideas?
Used tires are going to be with us whether in rivers, dumps or recycling centers. We can be part of the solution or the problem.  
 
Chris Kott
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Nuclear waste is also going to be with us for thousands of years, unless someone fuels a molten salt reactor off it. I'm not considering it as whitewash.

It is pretty straightforward. Whole tires offgas and otherwise degrade into the environment. You can tell by the way they smell in the sun.

The more surface area, the more tire is exposed to the elements,  and the faster it toxifies its surroundings.

Lastly, the more sheltered from the elements they are, the less chance they get to degrade and travel to where they can do damage.

So realistically, the "safe" uses involve encapsulation, probably underground. You'd probably court only as much risk as underground houses in radon-prone areas.

Anywhere tire rubber is exposed, it's degrading into the environment. If that happens to be your crops or livestock, or feed, for that matter,  it's going into your food.

Honestly,  ram some earth without tires. Maybe seed surrounds with fast-growing, root mat developing natives.

Controlled incineration can be extremely efficient and produce no dioxins. There is also much promise in high-heat, oxygen-free pyrolysis for breaking down and reusing chemical constituents.

I have no use for them. Their presence on a property might be a deal-breaker for me, in quantity.

-CK
 
Michael Dotson
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Nothing is going to stop huge piles of used tires from getting bigger. All the solutions I've read hasn't stopped a single tire from being slung in a river. All the clean tire recycling plants aren't fixing the problem. Dumping them off on someone else doesn't fix the problem. I have never heard of an account where food consumed from growing it in a tire ever killed or harmed anyone.
Further, I would say that with the millions of tires on the roads today people are getting gassed at a much higher rate than any food production I'm involved in could produce. Just walking down a city street you'll have thousands of hot tires grinding on pavement creating rubber dust and gasses. Millions of people breathe that in every day and don't die. Far more than would eat a turnip grown in a tire planter.
I think I'll keep doing what I'm doing without worry.
 
Paul Fookes
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It is interesting that a number of posts mentioning off gassing.  I have heaps of tyres in various forms around the block and have never smelt them.  However, the smell of new rubber at the tyre fitters is almost overpowering.  So there is obviously some volatile elements.  There is te cause and effect relationships of off gassing but there is also a question of contributing factors.  We know that there is a statistical correlation between smoking and lung cancer as well as bladder cancer.  Is there any statistical correlation of cancers with tyre off gassing outside of contribution through alcohol use, smoking or genetic/ familial predisposition.  To my way of thinking, unless we walk, it is unlikely that tyres will be phased out any time soon.  My answer is to not waste a resource at the right price.
 
Chris Kott
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My guess about the lack of smell over time would be that the volatiles escape from the outer layers of individual pieces, until there are no accessible volatiles left. If large pieces become smaller, more fresh surface area will be revealed, and I would expect an offgassing of volatiles to a similar depth.

Michael, I would argue that converting tires into energy, or their constituent chemical components, would stop huge piles of used tires from getting bigger.

Another thing that will keep huge piles of used tires from getting bigger would be changing the technology. NASA's moon buggy tire technology has finally made its way to a bicycle. If it makes it all the way, with current considerations in mind, we could not only have tires that outlast the functionality of the vehicle itself, but that are, of necessity, chemically stable enough that they don't offgas.

And finally, we could reexamine our relationship with tire-bearing vehicles, as societies. I have just read the third article this week about how my neck of Canada, and the rest of it, too, should pursue high-speed rail, like Europe has had for decades, so we could help small villages and towns get denser, support better services, and kneecap urban sprawl at one fell swoop in megacities.

I mean honestly, if the only tires were on our personal vehicles that we used to get around where we lived, and then to the nearest train station, which would also have vehicular ferry service, how many fewer tires would there be?

And simply burning them under the right, controlled conditions for energy production will chip away at those piles, just like feeding the right kind of nuclear reactor "spent" waste from ineffective processes has the potential to reduce the toxicity and volume of radioactive waste.

For these reasons, I don't buy the "Nothing's going to change and the mess will keep getting worse" narrative. It seems defeatist to me, and I think I have just shown some pretty big ways that its case isn't exactly ironclad.

If, by the way, we're looking for statistical correlations, look no further than cancer rates in the tire manufacture, sales, and service industry. I believe they're linked further up the page, or on one similar. I will give it a look.

-CK
 
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Chris Kott wrote:
So realistically, the "safe" uses involve encapsulation, probably underground.



the same strain of bacteria that causes raw hay to ignite does the same to scrap tires.
That it why landfilling is strictly prohibited.
I can not imagine the size of the caverns needed to accommodate the amount of S.T.


Chris Kott wrote:
Controlled incineration can be extremely efficient and produce no dioxins. There is also much promise in high-heat, oxygen-free pyrolysis for breaking down and reusing chemical constituents.



Yup you are right as to incineration and pyrolisis. but..
costs. (think not only of operative ones but of those transportation of scraptyres to the site, too)
Economy is what makes pyrolisis  hard to apply as a daily-basis solution.

Incineration in cement kilns is effective but.. it influences cement quality thus rendering cement plants to use no more than15% of the yearly produced amount .
New generation of flue gases cleaning  installation  behaves poorly having to deal with such high impurities concentration. (maintenance costs)

Waste incinerators can not add more  5 mass percent of scrap tires to their feedstock for emission reasons

Costs are still prohibitive.
(well...as long as Quwair allows the whole world to cheaply dump their scrap tires in their deserts (the world biggest scraptyres dumpsite).
Where  it ignites every 15 years)


Pyrolisis plant generates a lot of operational costs and regardless the process being  auto-energetic ( and possibility of coupling with steam-energy generators), the products are hardly salable thus causing the cost balance sheet to be negative. :-(


Consult Mr. google for Syntoil company.
It has found a way to increase their income.
Which may prove their installation operation being economically viable.
They managed to convert the waste  coke into pure soot.
A product highly sought on the market.
Moreover they claim their installation is portable.
I cross my finger for & keep my eye on them.

Let us see each other in the zerowaste world. :)
 
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