Rolling Out a New Tire Program

  • This is a mock-up of what the proposed label would look like (Photo courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

Back in 2007, Congress told the
National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration to come up with
new fuel efficiency labels on tires.
Mark Brush reports on when we might
see those labels in tire shops:

Transcript

Back in 2007, Congress told the
National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration to come up with
new fuel efficiency labels on tires.
Mark Brush reports on when we might
see those labels in tire shops:

It’s been 2 years, and the government is still working out how to get this labeling program going.

Right now, if you walk into a tire shop, it’s hard to compare tires on how fuel efficient they are. There’s no official standard yet.

But that should change soon. The new tire labeling program is expected to roll it out in the next few months.

Dan Zielinski is a spokesman for the Rubber Manufacturers Association. He says they support a labeling law because it’ll help competition.

It could give tire makers something to brag about.

“’It will be an incentive to say ‘my tire is better because,’ or, ‘my range of tires here are better because.’ It offers the consumers better performance on certain criteria. And I think that will drive the market even before the consumer demand does.”

A more fuel efficient tire will only get you a couple of miles per gallon more. But, put those tires on the 200 million cars and trucks driving the roads these days, and that could add up.

For The Environment Report, I’m Mark Brush.

Related Links

Is Your Playground Toxic?

  • Some parents and health professionals are standing by crumb rubber, because it does such a good job of preventing broken bones. (Photo by Ben Adler)

Playgrounds are supposed to be
safe places for kids to play.
But Tamara Keith
has the story of a leaked memo
from the Environmental Protection
Agency that indicates there might
be a problem with crumb rubber:

Transcript

Playgrounds are supposed to be
safe places for kids to play.
But Tamara Keith
has the story of a leaked memo
from the Environmental Protection
Agency that indicates there might
be a problem with crumb rubber:

(sound of kids playing)

Shawn Clancy’s two sons are having fun running around a community play set. And if they fall, he says there’s plenty of crumb rubber. It’s made from recycled tires and it should stop them from breaking any bones.

“I’ve seen kids fall from far distances. I’ve seen the give. I’ve seen them get right back up and kids are playing with it. It’s fun to dig in. They can kind of play with it. It’s about 8 inches thick, so there’s quite a bit of it.”

Clancy and his neighbors like the fact that it lasts a long time and that it keeps old tires out of landfills. And they’re not the only ones.

(outdoor sound)

I’m outside of the White House right now, just on the other side of the fence. And somewhere on those grounds, probably behind some tall shrubs, there is a play set. It’s a new play set that Sasha and Malia, the first family got. And underneath that play set is a pretty thick layer of rubber crumb to protect the girls if they fall.

I don’t think anyone is suggesting that this exposure is good for kids. The only question is how bad could it be.

Jeff Ruch heads Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. His group got its hands on some documents where scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency question whether there’s stuff in the crumb rubber that could be toxic to kids.

“What’s known is very very little. They list, I think it’s 30 toxic chemicals in one of the memos. And so far work has only been done on two of them.”

An EPA spokesman says the agency is doing a preliminary study of 4 playgrounds, looking for lead and volatile organic compounds. The results aren’t in yet.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association says there are more than a hundred studies showing scrap tires are safe in playgrounds and that environmental groups are over hyping the concerns.

Richard Wiles isn’t buying it. He’s senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group. And he feels like he’s seen this movie before – with arsenic treated wooden playground equipment.

“It was a really bad idea to use arsenic in this way and for about 20 years this is what we did.”

And kids all across the country were playing on this contaminated wood. But the thing is, initially arsenic treated wood seemed like a great idea, because it prevented decay – and made play structures safe and strong for years.

Parents might be left with the feeling that you just can’t win. Wiles thinks there’s another lesson.

“The basic problem is, we tend to use these products before we evaluate the health and safety concerns. We tend to just throw it out there without thinking that oh this is a surface that is made out of something that was previously considered hazardous waste.”

With all the alarm about very real arsenic problems, and yet to be verified concerns with crumb rubber, Donna Thompson says it’s easy to forget that playgrounds today are safer than they’ve ever been. She’s executive direction of the National Program for Playground Safety. For now she’s standing by crumb rubber, because it does such a good job of preventing broken bones.

“I’m not going to worry about it yet until I hear what the results are because I think sometimes we make too big a deal out of something and then it’s just not the case.”

The EPA says it will have results in a few weeks.

For The Environment Report, I’m Tamara Keith.

Related Links

Tire Pressure and Gas Mileage

  • Tire experts say that your tire pressure does, in fact, effect your gas mileage (Photo by Karen Kelly)

Earlier this year John McCain
and Barack Obama traded jabs over how
important tire pressure was in saving
gas. Lester Graham reports the experts
say it does make a difference:

Transcript

Earlier this year John McCain
and Barack Obama traded jabs over how
important tire pressure was in saving
gas. Lester Graham reports the experts
say it does make a difference:

Tim Bent is the Environmental Affairs Director at Firestone Tires. He says you ought to
check your tire pressure.

“Many people don’t maintain their tires well enough. They don’t check their tire
pressure frequently enough. And that does result, not only in lower gas mileage, but
premature tire wear which could be a safety issue as well.”

Bent says you should check tire pressure once a month. How much of a difference can
it make?

“A couple p.s.i could result in a few percentage points in fuel mileage.”

And at today’s prices, that can add up at the pump.

For The Environment Report, I’m Lester Graham.

Related Links

More Scrap Tires Reused

  • A variety of products using crumb rubber, which is manufactured from scrap tires. (Photo courtesy of Liberty Tire)

Americans get rid of almost 300 million scrap tires every year.
Historically, a lot of used tires have ended up at the bottom of
ravines or in huge tire piles. These piles have created eyesores,
toxic fire traps and places for mosquitoes to breed. But Ann Murray
reports that the days of widespread illegal dumping and monster tire
piles are waning:

Transcript

Americans get rid of almost 300 million scrap tires every year.
Historically, a lot of used tires have ended up at the bottom of
ravines or in huge tire piles. These piles have created eyesores,
toxic fire traps and places for mosquitoes to breed. But Ann Murray
reports that the days of widespread illegal dumping and monster tire
piles are waning:


Michelle Dunn is making her way through shoulder high knotweed to
show me an urban tire dump:


“This is the start of the tires. They’re all entwined in here.”


About 300 tires have been chucked over the hill in this quiet
Pittsburgh neighborhood. Dunn’s with a non-profit that helps
communities clean up old dump sites. She says illegal tire dumping is
still a problem but not the gargantuan problem it used to be:


“I don’t think you’re seeing new major piles appearing. The regular
Joe isn’t dumping as many tires because people are now becoming
educated. They have a service they can take their tires to have them
disposed of properly.”


In many states, the place to take old tires is now the neighborhood
tire store. Since the early 1990s, about 35 states have required tire
dealers to collect small fees to dispose of used tires. Now fewer
people dump tires and about 4 out of 5 scrap tires have been
cleaned up. Numbers have nosedived from a billion stockpiled tires to
less than 200 million.


Not all states have had equal success reducing their cache of old
tires. Some states such as Alaska, Wyoming and Nevada are still
struggling. Their rural landscapes have made it hard to catch illegal
dumpers and collect tires. Many other states have stepped up
enforcement. They now make dumpers pay to clean up waste tire
sites and register scrap tire haulers. But Matt Hale says new laws
aren’t the only reason scrap tire programs are working. Hale directs
the division of solid waste for the US Environmental Protection
Agency:


“In many cases a successful program is the result of being near
markets for tires. In the southeast for example, tires are in demand as
a fuel use and that certainly makes state tire programs in that part of
the country easier.”


Stricter waste tire laws have made it easier for the tire
recycling industry to take hold. Dave Quarterson is a senior director
with Liberty Tire. Liberty’s the biggest tire recycling company in the
country:


“It has been difficult for companies like ours in the past to look at
having to invest 5 or 10 million dollars into a facility to recycle tires
and then to have to compete on the street with a guy with a $1000
pickup truck who’s rolling ’em down an embankment somewhere.”


In 1990, very few of the 300 million scrap tires generated each year
were re-used. Today about 90 percent are recycled. A majority of
these tires are chipped and shipped to cement kilns and paper mills
to be burned for fuel. A fuel source that US EPA says is relatively
safer than burning coal but environmental groups say is still polluting.


Tire recyclers like Liberty Tire are now in big demand. Liberty uses
almost 75 million scrap tires a year. Their headquarters
plant specializes in making “crumb” rubber. Crumb’s used in
everything from football field turf to brake lining. It’s made from
shredded tires that are frozen with liquid nitrogen and then pulverized
into various sized bits.


Dave Quarterson, says tire recyclers are starting to move away from
producing tire chips for fuel to making newer products like crumb
rubber:


“We’ve got a lot more money into producing it but it’s a lot more
rewarding financially.”


States are also encouraging new uses for the decades old tires that
still remain in big, abandoned piles. Even with this backlog of old
scrap tires, states and recyclers are optimistic that growing markets
and new laws mean more and more scrap tires will have a useful
second life.


For the Environment Report, this is Ann Murray.

Related Links

Greenways to Garner Green for City?

  • Proposals to build greenways in Detroit are raising interest, hopes, and concerns. (Photo by Val Head)

Many cities looking to revitalize their urban centers
have turned to greenways to spur economic development. Greenways are pedestrian or bike paths that typically run between parks, museums, or shopping districts. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Sarah Hulett reports on hopes that greenways will breathe new life into one of America’s most blighted urban landscapes:

Transcript

Many cities looking to reviatlize their urban centers have turned to greenways to spur economic development. Greenways are pedestrian or bike paths that typically run between parks, museums, or shopping districts. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Sarah Hulett reports on hopes that greenways will breathe new life into one of America’s most blighted urban landscapes:


This abandoned rail line twenty-five feet below street level might not be many peoples’ first choice for a walk or a bike ride. But Tom Woiwode thinks soon it might be. Woiwode is the director of the GreenWays Initiative for all of Southeast Michigan. When he takes a look down this former Grand Trunk Western Rairoad line in Detroit, he doesn’t see the fast food wrappers, tires, and crashed and rusting shopping carts. He sees trees and grass and benches. And more importantly, he sees people, and places for people to spend their money.


“So maybe a bike repair shop, restaurants, some opportunities for music venues and those sorts of things, so people can ride their bike on down to the riverfront and along the way either stay here for lunch, or along the way stop and rest and enjoy the ambiance, or take their food and go on down to the riverfront where they can enjoy the extraordinary natural resources of the river as well.”


We’re standing near the city’s sprawling open-air produce market. It’s one of the most popular draws for people from inside and outside the city limits. When it’s complete, the greenway will link the market to Detroit’s greatest natural asset: the Detroit River. Greenways are a new redevelopment concept in Detroit. But elsewhere, Woiwode says, they’ve proven a well-tested urban redevelopment tool.


“In fact, back in the late 90’s, the mayors of Pittsburgh and Denver – two municipalities that are roughly similar in size to Detroit – both characterized their greenways programs as the most important economic development programs they had within the city.”


Minneapolis is another city that’s had success with greenways. In fact, backers of the greenway plan in downtown Detroit say they were inspired by a similar project there. Last month, Minneapolis completed the second phase of what will eventually be a five-mile greenway along an abandoned rail line much like the one in Detroit. It’s called the Midtown Greenway. And it’ll eventually link the Chain of Lakes to the Mississippi River thruogh neighborhoods on the city’s south side.


Eric Hart is a Minneapolis Midtown Greenway Coalition board member. He says even the greenway’s most avid supporters joked that people might continue to use it as a dumping ground for abandoned shopping carts like they did when it was just a trench.


“Since then, since it was done in 2000, there’s been a lot of interest in the development community to put high-density residential structures right along the edge of the greenway. And it’s viewed more like a park now.”


Since the first phase was completed in 2000, one affordable housing development and a 72-unit market-rate loft project have been completed. And five more housing developments – mostly condos – are in the planning stages. Hart says people use the greenway for recreation and for commuting by bicycle to their jobs.


Colin Hubbell is a developer in Detroit. He says he’s all for greenways, as long as they’re not competing for dollars with more pressing needs in a city like Detroit: good schools, for example. Or safe neighborhoods. Hubbell says the question needs to be asked: If you build it, will they come?


“I’m not sure. I’m not sure, if, given the perception problem that we have as a city, how many people on bikes are going to go down in an old railroad right away, I’m not sure even if that’s the right thing to do, given the fact that – I mean, we have a street system. And just because there’s a greenway doesn’t mean if somebody’s on Rollerblades or a bicycle that they’re not going to stay on a greenway.”


Hubbell says Detroit already has a lot of streets and not much traffic – leaving plenty of room for bicyclists. Hubbell says it might be cheaper to paint some bike lanes, and put up signs. But he says connecting the city’s cultural and educational institutions, the river, and commercial districts with greenways is a good idea – as long as they’re running through areas where people will use them.


Kelli Kavanaugh says that’s exactly what’s happening with greenway plans in the city. Kavanaugh is with the Greater Corktown Economic Development Corporation in southwest Detroit.


“You can’t just stick a greenway in the middle of a barren, abandoned neighborhood and expect use. But when you put one into a growing neighborhood, a stabilizing neighborhood, it really works as another piece of the quality of life puzzle to kind of support existing residents, but also attract new residents to the area. It’s another amenity.”


Greenway backers say for a city struggling just to maintain its population, Detroit can only benefit from safe, pleasant places to walk and bike. And if other cities are any indication, they say greenways should also help bring another kind of green into Detroit.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Sarah Hulett.

Related Links

Automakers Divided Over Lead Wheel Weights

  • When tires are balanced, lead weights are attached to the wheel rim. The weights make sure the tires wear evenly, and ensure a smooth ride. But the Ecology Center says the weights fall off, and the lead degrades easily, posing a risk to human health. (Photo by Mark Brush)

For years, the government and environmentalists have been working to reduce lead exposure in the environment. Lead can cause developmental damage to children and cause other health problems. The government banned lead in gasoline. It banned lead shot in shotgun shells. There are efforts to get rid of lead sinkers in fishing tackle. And now, environmentalists are trying to ban lead weights used to balance wheels. And some companies and fleet operators seem willing to comply. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Julie Halpert has the story about the move to a less hazardous alternative:

Transcript

For years, the government and environmentalists have been working to reduce lead exposure in the
environment. Lead can cause developmental damage to children and cause other health problems. The
government banned lead in gasoline. It banned lead shot in shotgun shells. There are efforts to get rid of lead
sinkers in fishing tackle. And now, environmentalists are trying to ban lead weights used to balance wheels.
And some companies and fleet operators seem willing to comply. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Julie
Halpert has the story about the move to a less hazardous alternative:


When you buy a new car or get your tires replaced, manufacturers use lead weights, which clip onto the wheel
rim to make sure it’s evenly balanced. They use lead, because it’s heavy, dense. So a small amount by
volume is used.


Still, a few ounces of lead can be used on each wheel. And nearly every car and truck on the road has lead
weights. They’re the second largest use of lead in cars, next to lead acid batteries.


As long as the weights stay on the tires, they’re not a huge problem. But environmentalists are worried that
they come off too often. Many fall off when a car hits a pothole or collides with a curb. Then they’re run
over, ground down and get into the environment.


Each year, roughly 30-million pounds of lead are used to make wheel weights. A recent study estimates that
more than 300 tons of lead fall off vehicles each year in the Midwest alone. Jeff Gearhart is with the Ecology
Center which conducted that study.


“Many people don’t realize there’s a lot of lead in vehicles for this particular use and this is actually a fairly
small percentage of that lead actually falls off. But when you look at it as quantity, it’s pretty significant.”


The weights don’t just pose a problem on the road. Gearhart says there’s also danger when they’re not
properly recycled when new tires are put on and the weights are replaced. Another problem is when a car is
scrapped and then later when the parts are melted down, the lead can be released into the environment.

“Lead wheel weights are not managed very well as vehicles are scrapped and the difficulty in correcting the
management of these at the end of a life in a salvage yard or in a vehicle crusher or a shredder is very
challenging.”


He says the solution is to make sure lead is not used in the first place. Concerned about lead’s potential
health effects, Europe has already decided to ban lead wheel weights starting next year. And Gearhart is
pushing manufacturers who design for the U.S. market to do the same. He says substitute materials, such as
zinc, iron and tin, are readily available and work just as well as lead.


And with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Ecology Center is making lead-free weights
available to those who service vehicle fleets.


(sound of weights being hammered onto wheel rims)


At the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan’s garage, a technician is banging zinc weights onto wheels. Tom
Gibbons helps manage this fleet of 400 city vehicles. Ann Arbor is the first city to switch to lead-free
weights.


“We realize lead is a problem in the environment and in the city, we’re really concerned about the
environment. We’re committed to doing as much as we can to protect it, so if we can take lead out of the
system, why not do it.”


Gibbons says the substitutes work just as well as lead weights. He says once the Ecology Center’s free
supply of weights runs out, the city will began buying non-lead weights, even though they’ll cost slightly
more.


But not everyone agrees with the idea of using other materials for wheel weights. Daimler/Chrysler doesn’t
plan to switch to lead-free weights for its U.S. models. The company is concerned the substitutes are costlier
and more difficult to install on wheels.


Other automakers are looking at eliminating the use of lead weights. Terry Cullum is with General Motors.
He agrees they’re currently an issue, but says the Ecology Center’s estimate of the number of weights that fall
off cars seems high to him. And, he says there’s no imminent danger to the public.

“I think if you look at this from a risk-based situation, we don’t view lead being used in wheel weights
applications as a risk, well, as a large risk, let’s put it that way.”


Even so, General Motors is considering moving to lead free weights. Cullum says that everywhere the
automaker uses lead is a concern. And since the company will have to stop using lead weights on the cars and
trucks it sell in Europe, he says it might be easier just to take them out of all GM vehicles. Still, Cullum says
the substitutes present a big engineering challenge: because they’re not as dense. It takes bigger pieces of
metal to make the same weight. So, they take up more space on the wheel than lead weights.


“It becomes an issue, in terms of where do you put it on the wheel, how do you do it in such a way that it
doesn’t actually interfere with the actual operation of the wheel or the brake systems. That is an issue that is
going through research and engineering right now.”


But Cullum’s optimistic that the issue can be addressed. And other auto makers, such as Honda, are forging
ahead with lead-free weights on at least one of their model.


Still there’s resistance from U.S. tire retailers. The Tire Industry Association says the weights don’t fall off
wheels. And the tire retailers say the lead weights are properly recycled. The group has no plans to stop
using lead weights if they’re not legally required to.


Jeff Gearhart with the Ecology Center says that denial of the problem is a big mistake. He says if
manufacturers and tire retailers cooperated, they could get a substantial amount of lead out of the
environment within a few years.


“There is the potential to make a really significant impact here. We’re talking hundreds of tons of lead
released into the U.S. to the environment that can be eliminated. So we think this is a high priority project,
not just for us, but we think it will be for states and for EPA to look at how to facilitate this transition to
cleaner wheel balancing.”

The Environmental Protection Agency is starting to look at the issue. It plans to conduct a study within the
next year to get a better understanding of the problem and see how lead weights are handled. Then, they’ll
issue guidelines for consumers and tire recyclers late next year. That means the public will be more aware of
the use of lead wheel weights and the potential for toxic exposure. Usually, that means public pressure for
change, whether some automakers and tire retailers like it or not.


For The Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Julie Halpert.

Related Links

Putting the Brakes on Lead Wheel Weights

  • When tires are balanced, lead weights are usually attached to the wheel rim. The weights make sure the tires wear evenly, and ensure a smooth ride. But the Ecology Center says the weights fall off, and the lead degrades easily, posing a risk to human health. (Photo by Mark Brush)

Lead is toxic to children. Even small amounts of exposure can cause developmental problems. Lead-based house paint is banned in the U.S. Now, an environmental group is calling for a phase-out of a car part that contains lead. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Rebecca Williams has more:

Transcript

Lead is toxic to children. Even small amounts of exposure can cause developmental problems.
Lead-based house paint is banned in the U.S. Now, an environmental group is calling for a
phase-out of a car part that contains lead. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Rebecca
Williams has more:


(tire balancing sound)


When you go to get new tires, or to have them rebalanced, the mechanic often
attaches lead weights to the wheel rims. The weights help ensure a smooth
ride and make sure tires wear evenly.


But two recent studies found some of these wheel weights fall off. The
researchers say that adds up to 275 tons of lead dropped onto roads in the
region every year. One of the studies found the soft metal gets ground up
and deposited near curbs.


Jeff Gearhart is with the Ecology Center. His group is concerned the lead
dust could be tracked into homes and washed into water supplies. So the
group is working with tire retailers to switch to non-lead wheel weights.


“Lead, in commerce, being used in a way where there’s exposure, is something
we should move away from. The European Union has banned the use of these
weights and we think that that is going to be needed in the U.S. as well.


Gearhart says the Ecology Center will help retailers cover the cost of
switching to non-lead weights.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Rebecca Williams.

Related Links

Old Tires Hit the Gridiron

Great Lakes residents use more than two million tires a year, and many of them end up in a landfill. But one Illinois school has found an unusual way to use some of those tires. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris Lehman has more:

Transcript

Great Lakes residents use more than two million tires a year, and many of them end up in a landfill. But one Illinois school has found an unusual way to use some of those tires. And they’re saving on hospital costs as well. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris Lehman has more.


(natural sound football practice, fade under quickly)


From beer cans to soda bottles, there are plenty of items that can be recycled at a typical football game. But at the 31-thousand seat Huskie Stadium at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, what is perhaps the largest recycling effort is in the field itself. More than 18-thousand ground-up tires are underneath the new surface of the playing field . . .mixed with sand; they provide a soft but durable base for all types of athletic events. The fake grass on top is similar to Astroturf, but project manager Norm Jenkins says this surface is better. He says the most important advantage is safety.


“It’s well documented over the last few years since these fields have been installed that the injury frequency goes way down in terms of ankle and knee injuries on this surface as opposed to the old Astroturf carpet. So it really simulates grass in that way. The other big advantage to this in our judgment is the appearance. Because really, as you sit in the stands at a Huskie football game–and even from the sidelines when you stand on that stuff–you’re convinced that the surface is grass. It looks, it appears just like a pristine grass playing surface”


The artificial turf at NIU is a brand called Field Turf. Jim Petrucelli is Vice-President of Turf USA, a Pittsburgh-based distributor of Field Turf. He says the scrap tires for the product are first washed with a high-pressure cleaning system similar to a car wash. But the tires aren’t run through grinder blades. That process is called ambient grinding because it takes place at room temperature. It tends to produce longer, rougher particles.


Instead, Petrucelli says the company cryogenically freezes the tires to temperatures below negative 80 degrees Fahrenheit.


“And then they drop them onto a hammer-mill. And the hammer-mill shatters them into pieces. And those pieces tend to have much flatter sides on them . . . that works much better in our system to prevent the rubber from migrating through the sand that it’s mixed with.”


Field Turf is used at several universities in the Great Lakes region, including the University of Cincinnati, Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, and at a University of Michigan field house. It’s also in use at dozens of high schools and public recreation facilities across the region, and has been installed in places as far away as Botswana and New Zealand.


Petrucelli says that at more than eight dollars a square foot, Field Turf is the Cadillac of artificial turf products. At Northern Illinois University, nearly one-third of the cost of installing the Field Turf was recovered through a variety of money-saving measures. The largest of these was a 200-thousand dollar grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. The money was awarded to the school for its use of the tires, which came from a salvage yard near Chicago. Robert Albanese is NIU’s Associate Vice President of Finance and Facilities.


“Every time you purchase a new tire there’s a fee that goes along with it. It goes to this fund for recycling the tires. And this process will only work, is if we use those recycled materials on the other end. And this is probably one of the bigger uses for recycled rubber that we’ve seen in the state of Illinois.”


NIU Director of Recycling Mary Crocker says the use of old tires in the Field Turf project wasn’t just about saving money.


“We’re interested in keeping the tires out the landfills. So this is probably the most comprehensive recycling program that you can find, where virtually everything has to do with recycling.”


(More football sound under)


The old Astroturf, which was removed to make way for the Field Turf, was also recycled. The university sold it for use as a soccer field overseas, earning an additional 29 thousand dollars for the school. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Chris Lehman.

Reducing Road Noise

Efforts to reduce road noise pollution are making progress in
Indiana. Last year, Purdue University opened the Institute for Safe,
Quiet, and Durable Highways. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
David Naylor reports:

Transcript

Efforts to reduce noise pollution are making progress in Indiana.
Last year, Purdue University opened the Institute for Safe, Quiet, and
Durable Highways. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s David
Naylor reports:


In the past, measuring road noise meant measuring the sound of a
car’s mechanical systems, primarily engine and muffler noise. Now,
with the development of more efficient engines, researchers have
identified the tires and road surface as the newest problem.


So, Purdue researchers are looking for the quietest combination of
tire treads and pavement. They say the most promising surface so far is
one developed in Europe: a thick layer of asphalt, with pits one and a
half to two inches deep.
It reduces road noise by about 50% and does well in the
freeze-and-thaw cycle. But the major problem is keeping oil and dirt
out of the deep pits.
Lab director Bob Bernhard hopes a double layer of pavement will
help.


“One which has the properties that they think are optimal for acoustics, and then put a second

layer below it, which has bigger spacing. In that way, they can flush the dirt and the things that

are plugging, out of the top layer, where the acoustics are affected, in the bottom layer, and

then flush it out.”


Research on the porous pavement continues in Europe and the U.S.
There are no plans yet for commercial production.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m David Naylor.