New laws regulating the amount of copper present in brake pads are becoming reality. Most brake manufacturers are ready or getting ready for the California and Washington state mandates to kick in over the next 10 to 15 years. Other states, like New York, Rhode Island and Oregon, are working on their own proposals.
Most of these regulations are written in a way so the public is not at risk and so they do not become an economic burden to the state, aftermarket manufacturers or the public. But, Hawaii has gone off the deep end with the help of an inventor.
At first, I thought it was a joke, filters placed behind the wheel to remove brake dust and rubber using just the air blowing in the wheel wells. The filter looks like it is made of normal filter materials and mounted in a flat plastic cage. They make the claim that it can trap particles as small as 2.5 microns.
The filter is designed to absorb the stuff blowing around in the wheel well. The filter mounts to the rear of the wheel well. The company behind the filters, StreetVac, calls the technology “virtual vacuuming” in an explanation of the product. The company claims filters should be replaced every oil change.
There are four real-world problems for theses filters. First, the wheel well can be a wet environment. One good rainstorm and the partials of brake dust and road debris would be washed away. Second, the filter would only catch a very small percentage of the brake dust. Third, some particles of brake dust are a lot smaller than the filter could catch. Fourth, even if every vehicle had four filters, the amount of copper and other heavy metal contaminates trapped would be very small compared to if they were not there in the first place.
Unfortunately this is not a joke or April Fool’s prank. This is a real invention that the inventors are trying to get state governments to mandate. Why? Because politicians rarely vote against something they do not understand or might save the environment.
StreetVac has been lobbying Hawaii’s state government to get the Revised Statues for Motor Vehicles amended to include a provision to at least get the state government to test the filters or maybe even require them for all vehicle fleets. Unfortunately, they found a politician who would listen. Here is a sample from Hawaii’s SB 2342 that is currently tabled for further investigation:
A renewal registration shall not be issued to a registered owner or lessee unless every fleet vehicle owned or leased by that owner or lessee is equipped with aftermarket equipment certified under section 286 to directly capture and remove from the environment re-entrained particles and tire and brake wear emissions from all wheels.”
(1) Require each state agency to purchase, install and maintain aftermarket equipment certified by the director of transportation to directly capture and remove from the environment re-entrained particles and tire and brake wear emissions from all wheels of state agency motor vehicles.
(2) Extend to 24 months the vehicle inspection period for vehicles that are installed with aftermarket equipment certified by the director of transportation to directly capture and remove from the environment re-entrained particles and tire and brake wear emissions.
(3) Require the director of transportation to certify aftermarket equipment to directly capture and remove from the environment re-entrained particles and tire and brake wear emissions.
In a nut shell, StreetVac convinced a Hawaiian politician and author of the amendments that the filters are the best thing since sliced bread. But, it looks like common sense is prevailing.
What is even scarier is that they claim the used filters can be burned to generate electrical power. There are two problems with this scenario.
First, when these filters are burned, they would give off high levels of toxic substances. Second, it is projected that Hawaii will run out of landfill in 30 years even with a three boiler incinerator power generation plant going full bore. Also, Hawaii ships a lot of its garbage 2,600 miles to be disposed of on the mainland.
Looking at the grand scheme of things, not having the filters in the first place would have a greater positive effect on the environment as a whole.