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Washington state becomes first to ban copper in brake pads

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Washington state becomes first to ban copper in brake pads

04/12/2010, 10:53 PMBY MARK KLEIS

Washington state has now passed legislation that will gradually eliminate copper from brake pads by 2023, with the first changes not occurring until 2021. The move to ban copper from brake pads stems from the poisonous effects the metal has when it enters water sources such as streams, creeks, rivers, lakes and the ocean.

According to Fox News, Washington has become the first state to successfully pass legislation to limit the amount of copper in automotive brake pads, leading the way for several other states seeking similar legislative changes.

Bill Harris, a spokesman for San Diego’s Storm Water Division, told Leftlane in an interview that the move to eliminate copper from brake pads has been going on for years, all across the nation.

“Municipal agencies like the City of San Diego are dong what they can to support plans like those recently adopted by the state of Washington. Municipal agencies are under the gun to reduce the amount of metals found in waterways, creeks, beaches and rivers in their jurisdiction – this legislation provides the basis for making that happen,” said Harris.

Harris also told Leftlane that municipalities, such as San Diego, have been working with automakers and suppliers for years to try and develop alternative solutions to using copper in brake pads. Copper is widely used because it is particularly effective at dissipating heat, making parts makers and automakers hesitant to move to a potentially inferior replacement component.

Why copper is dangerous, and how it enters the water sources

The reason copper is so dangerous is because when it mixes with water it creates a poisonous effect, which can wreak havoc on plant and animal life living in, or depending on naturally occurring water sources. In many areas of the nation the storm water runoff, which is anything that comes off of the roadways, goes completely untreated all the way to local waterways, and in many cases, eventually out into the ocean.

“Sewage is treated and transported in completely separate systems [from storm water run off], rendering the precautions used for its treatment completely irrelevant when it comes to storm water runoff from roadways,” explained Harris. Harris continued to explain that this problem is exacerbated by the fact that many people assume all sewers are connected – expecting the oil, trash, fluids, debris and contamination like copper to be treated before entering waterways, and in turn are more likely to be careful with their pollution on roadways.

Auto industry comments on the recent legislation

“It was a balanced approach, balancing the needs of our consumers and environmental concerns,” said Curt Augustine, policy director for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group of 11 manufacturers, including Ford, Chrysler and Toyota, to Fox News.

Why new legislation is necessary

Harris explained to Leftlane that current laws in California, as well as most of the U.S., simply set limits on the amount of certain harmful substances that can be found in water supplies, without addressing how those levels are to be maintained. Municipalities operate with an understanding of a concept known as Total Maximum Daily Load, which essentially says how much contamination is allowed to enter waterways on a daily basis.

Currently, copper is one of three leading harmful metals found in water supplies as a result of industrialized runoff, along with zinc and lead. As Harris explained, brake pad dust that occurs as a result of utilizing brakes under normal driving conditions transfers to roadways, which then is washed into untreated sewer systems from rain and irrigation. Although agencies monitor and set limits on how much copper (and other materials) can be tested, the regulations offer no insight into how levels are to be maintained.

Harris also pointed out that there are countless studies that demonstrate significant cost savings could be achieved by eliminating copper at the source, rather than attempting to filter it out from the waterways after the fact.

“No matter how you cut it, the bottom line is that in the near future municipalities, governmental agencies and national organizations are going to have to stop the use of copper in brake pads. The change is coming, but what is yet to be decided is whether or not the changes will come in the form of changes to the materials used in brake pads, or if costly after-source filtering solutions will be implemented,” said Harris.

Harris said that no matter how the problem is approached, consumers and tax payers will eventually be stuck with the bill, but suggested that eliminating the problem at the source by removing copper from brake pads would significantly lower the cost of the necessary change.

Ironically, copper became a popular material in brake pads as a result of the national ban of asbestos in brake pads in 1991.

link:

http://www.leftlanenews.com/washington-state-becomes-first-to-ban-copper-in-brake-pads.html

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Assuming that copper is in the brakes for a reason and not to sadistically poison waterways, how much will this worsen braking ability?

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Assuming that copper is in the brakes for a reason and not to sadistically poison waterways, how much will this worsen braking ability?

this is all abs's fault.... if the brakes locked, wouldn't have so much dust...just rubber lol

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Assuming that copper is in the brakes for a reason and not to sadistically poison waterways, how much will this worsen braking ability?

Switch to ceramics. No copper, much better braking ability, much longer pad life.

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Switch to ceramics. No copper, much better braking ability, much longer pad life.

i was going to post something like that, but i could ask my bro if any ceramic has copper in it....

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There could be a ceramic that has copper in it, but I can't think of why. Ceramic has better heat dissipating properties and adding copper to it would just weaken the ceramic.

Copper is generally in the metallic or Metallic/Organic composite pads.

I had the brakes checked around the 45k mile mark on the CTS just because I was used to having to change the pads every 25k miles on the Cutlass and was getting worried..... they still had better than 90% life left on them. They were ceramic from the factory.

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Switch to ceramics. No copper, much better braking ability, much longer pad life.

I have to disagree with this.

I was not happy with the brake life and the dust on the '99 Bonneville's brakes, so I got a set of Power Slot Cryo rotors and the Akebono Ceramic brakes, and was never happy with the results... sure, it was less dust (pretty much NO dust), but the car stopped better with stock pads, IMHO. I tried a second set of ceramic pads of a different kind (can't remember what) with similar results. I then switched back to quality composite and the car stops NICE.

Tirerack.com has ratings for the various pads... ceramics get 2 or 3 stars for stopping... composites, 4.

I'm sure some cars may do better with ceramics, but I think its mostly bling.

Also, the ceramics wear the rotor out faster... what metals is that leaching into the water supply, besides iron?

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What's next banning Copper/Phosphate from drain cleaners(to kill tree roots) or copper wire on roofs to kill algae on north slopes?

That said I love my ceramics on the RM Woodie much shorter stops. As far as the minerals in rotors there's graphite in cast iron, steel has all sorts of alloys.

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I have to disagree with this.

I was not happy with the brake life and the dust on the '99 Bonneville's brakes, so I got a set of Power Slot Cryo rotors and the Akebono Ceramic brakes, and was never happy with the results... sure, it was less dust (pretty much NO dust), but the car stopped better with stock pads, IMHO. I tried a second set of ceramic pads of a different kind (can't remember what) with similar results. I then switched back to quality composite and the car stops NICE.

Tirerack.com has ratings for the various pads... ceramics get 2 or 3 stars for stopping... composites, 4.

I'm sure some cars may do better with ceramics, but I think its mostly bling.

Also, the ceramics wear the rotor out faster... what metals is that leaching into the water supply, besides iron?

I think ceramics work better when the car they are on was designed for them..... and just like any aftermarket part, there are good ceramics and there are crap ceramics.

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I think ceramics work better when the car they are on was designed for them..... and just like any aftermarket part, there are good ceramics and there are crap ceramics.

I agree with the first part of this, but disagree with the second. Akebono and Hawk are not second rate aftermarket manufacturers...

That said, when a lot of supercars brag about ceramic brakes... they are talking about rotors... and the ceramic rotors do have better characteristics that steel, weight reduction being tops.

OEM ceramic pads are put there for long service life, quietness and low dust, IMHO.

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OEM ceramic pads are put there for long service life, quietness and low dust, IMHO.

and when designed for it, there are no differences in braking ability. The CTS stops just fine with ceramic.

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>>"The reason copper is so dangerous is because when it mixes with water it creates a poisonous effect"<<

ummm, how many residential homes (& commercial buildings) use copper pipes for water supply ???

Would've been nice if the "poisonous effect" was even briefly detailed.

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too much of a good thing. It's only supposed to be in your blood stream in trace amounts. Vitamin C and Zinc will reduce the amount of copper in your system.

Here are the symptoms if you get too much copper.

Toxic levels will lead to diarrhea, vomiting, liver damage as well as discoloration of the skin and hair, while mild excesses will result in fatigue, irritability, depression and loss of concentration and learning disabilities.

Children getting too much copper may have hyperactive tendencies.

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Olds just having water pass over a bare copper wire kills algae growing on roofs I think that is realy where the enviros are going with this. Remember it's just the first step look at where the EPA Was, Is & are going. It's just a matter of time

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Interesting point, 67impss.

Also interesting WRT the roof copper. I recently read you could put a strip of zinc-coated flashing near the top course- the idea being the water running over it would kill off the streaked black mold shingled roofs sometimes get. At some point I'll need a new roof (18 yrs old), but it's holding up quite well to date. I will have to research this further and put whichever works better into the re-roofing. I have quantities of copper wiring- maybe a retro-fit would work in the meantime.

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Without going into a lot of technical specifics, after taking the Transportation & the Environment class that I'm about to complete, I think this is a good thing. You'd be shocked how much toxic crap from auto parts (brakes, tires, lead, etc.) ends up as fine particulate "fugitive dust" (yes, that's the technical term) that gets kicked up into the air and affects air quality for miles around major freeways. The worst part is a lot of it never goes away--it just keeps resettling and persisting in the environment. How long has leaded gas been unavailable? Lead is still all over the place on or near roadways.

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I agree with you in the metals minerals & such I just don't want the Fed's to do another power grab we need to push the OEM's & parts industries into policing them selves, kinda like ASHRAE has in the HVAC industries. Works better when Gov. & industry go hand in hand not butting heads :thumbsup:

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