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National Stormwater Day Program Spotlight: Don’t Wait to Inflate

Don’t wait to inflate! Checking your tire pressure monthly helps drivers stay safer, save money – and save coho salmon.

A recently discovered stormwater pollutant from cars is killing local coho salmon at an alarming rate, but the source might not be what you expect. Fuel emissions? Oil leaks? Dirty car wash water flowing down storm drains into our waters? Worse: a highly toxic rubber preservative in tire wear particles called 6PPD-q. Local researchers, the Washington Department of Ecology, and tire manufacturers are working on new formulations to address the issue, but solutions will take time – and coho can’t wait. What can we all do now to help save the salmon? A new tire care campaign sponsored by the Puget Sound Starts Here team of local cities, counties, local nonprofit partners, and the Washington State Department of Ecology shows the answer is simple: “Don’t wait to inflate”.

A friendly mascot “Terry the Tire” and the webpage share resources on how, when, and where to check air pressure and keep tires properly inflated. These include a short how-to video, a map of nearby air stations, car care tips, and 6PPD-q research. Stickers and window clings will be distributed throughout the Puget Sound region thanks to local city, county, and nonprofit partners.

The “Don’t Wait to Inflate” campaign shows drivers how, when, and where to check their tire air pressure and keep tires properly inflated for safety, savings – and salmon!

Properly inflated tires can help keep people safer on the road, save money, and even save the lives of local coho salmon. As tires wear, they shed tire particles called tire crumb or dust that wash off roads into water bodies. The US Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) recommends checking tires at least once a month and inflating if low to help reduce tire wear particles. Tires maintained monthly at their ideal air pressure wear longer, reducing the rate of toxic pollutants released.

“Drivers can take a small action to reduce tire particles and help keep our waters cleaner and protect coho salmon,” said Mary Rabourn with King County Stormwater Services. “It’s an easy way to help our salmon and it’s safer for drivers too. By checking tire pressure monthly and adding air right away if needed, drivers save gas and tire wear, and help keep water clean.”

Research findings revealed that nearly 33% of Puget Sound area residents currently check their tire pressure monthly. Of those who don’t, 65% of respondents said they are somewhat to very likely willing to check their tire pressure monthly if they are shown how. The campaign shows drivers who have never done it before how fast and easy it can be. And it encourages those who may be checking their tire pressure less frequently to commit to checking it monthly. The research and campaign information includes feedback from English, Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese language users from around Puget Sound.

“We want to help people discover that if you can pump gas or charge your car, you can check your tire pressure monthly and add air for safer driving and cleaner water. It’s that easy for drivers at any experience level. Or take it to your local service station and ask them to check for you. It’s good for drivers, coho salmon, and protecting Puget Sound. So why wait?” – Justine Asohmbom, Washington Department of Ecology

“The Don’t Wait to Inflate” campaign not only raises awareness about the personal and environmental benefits of tire care. It opens the door to making other small changes to car care and our daily activities at home, in the yard, with dogs, and in our communities. Collectively we can make a big difference in Puget Sound recovery and keep pollution out of our waterways.” – Susan McCleary, City of Olympia

To learn more and share the campaign, visit and follow @PugetSoundStartsHere #DontWaitToInflate on Instagram and Facebook.