Washington State Says 'Give Salmon A Break' With Copper-Free Brakes

Dec 11, 2015

It has taken five years, but low-copper and copper-free brakes are now available in Washington. That’s because of a 2010 law designed to phase out the use of copper and other toxics in brake pads.

Ian Wesley, the Better Brakes coordinator at the Washington State Department of Ecology, said each time you use your brakes, a bit of material gets deposited on the roadway.

“From there it gets washed into streams and rivers where it’s harmful of salmon,” he said. “Even very trace levels of copper negatively impact salmons’ ability to smell.”

Wesley said copper-free brakes are just as reliable and should cost about the same. He urged car owners to ask for them.

“You can identify them by a three leaf logo -- and all of the three leaves will be filled in and that’s how you’ll identify the copper-free ones,” he explained.

Wesley said do it for the salmon.

“Yeah, give salmon a break. That’s what we’re asking people to do,” he said with a laugh.