The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced an agreement that would cut the use of copper in motor vehicle brake pads.
Under the voluntary agreement between the EPA, eight auto industry groups and the Environmental Council of the States, copper content in brake pads would be reduced to 5 percent by weight in 2021, then cut again to 0.5 percent by 2025.
The pact aims to reduce the amount of copper runoff sent into the nation's waterways due to vehicle braking, which the EPA said can affect animal and plant life in lakes, rivers and streams.
Similar guidelines are already in place in California and Washington, which saw runoff of 1.3 million pounds and 250,000 pounds of copper, respectively, in 2011, which preceded their implementation. Urban copper runoff in California has declined by 61 percent following the changes, according to estimates.
The agreement also includes proposed reductions in the use of mercury, lead, cadmium, asbestiform fibers and chromium-6 salts in brake pads.
“The environment and public health in our country will benefit from this type of collaboration between the public and private sector,” said EPA Acting Deputy Administrator Stan Meiburg.
Steve Handschuh, president and CEO of the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, added the agreement provides his industry with "consistent copper reduction guidelines and eliminate the potential for disparate state regulations."
Additional testing for potential alternatives to the materials will also be conducted under the terms of the deal.