Auto industry, EPA sign agreement to reduce copper in brake pads

Copper runoff from brakes pollutes waterways and harms plants and animals.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) and representatives from the auto industry have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to reduce the use of copper and other polluting components in brake pads. The agreement calls for copper levels to drop to 5 percent by 2021 and 0.5 percent by 2025.

The deal also includes the reduction of mercury, lead, cadmium, asbestiform fibers and chromium-6 salts. These measures are all geared toward improving the cleanliness of American waterways, since runoff from these materials can be harmful to fish and marine amphibians and plants. Prior to this historic announcement, California and Washington state had already regulated the use of copper by law.

According to market research firm Frost & Sullivan, 89.2 million brake pads were sold in the U.S. in 2013. The EPA said that copper runoff from brakes amounted to about 1.3 million pounds in California in 2010, where that number has already been reduced by 61 percent since the law was enacted, and 250,000 pounds in Washington.

"EPA is proud to partner with the automotive industry and the states to reduce the use of copper in motor vehicle brake pads, which means less of this material running off our roads and into our nation's waterways," said the agency's acting deputy administrator, Stan Meiburg. "The environment and public health in our country will benefit from this type of collaboration between the public and private sector."

The agreement calls for expanded testing of alternative friction materials in the coming years. With decades of experience providing friction testing services according to industry-leading standards, Greening guarantees the accuracy and timeliness of all test results. Contact us for more information on our professional testing services.