Washington State is banning copper in brake pads to reduce water pollution.
Scientists claim that a tiny bit of copper falls off every time you brake. Run-off washes this into water systems, polluting them and harming organisms. They believe that one-third of copper released by human activity comes from automobiles. While no widespread harm has been recorded, copper interferes with salmon’s sense of smell and is toxic to plankton.
The ban will not allow brake pads with more than 5 percent copper by 2021. If manufacturers prove it is possible, that number could drop to almost zero by 2023. The 2021 number is feasible, with many vehicles already containing less than 5 percent copper in their brake pads, but we’ll have to see how technology advances to find out if brakes without copper are a possibility.