When it comes to scientific research, there are internationally recognized processes that provide confidence in research findings. For published research, these processes culminate with the peer review process. Peer review has been described as an integral part of scientific publishing that confirms its validity. There are different forms of peer review, but the process, which has been around for more than 300 years, empowers experts to provide comments to improve papers and validate research.
Sense about Science, an independent charity that challenges the misrepresentation of science and evidence in public life, is clear in its criticism of studies that have not passed the peer review process by saying: “Unpublished research is no help to anyone — if you don’t publish exactly how a study was carried out, others can’t decide whether your methods were valid or repeat them to verify the results. As a society, it is unwise to base decisions about health or public safety on work that may well be flawed.”
For the tire industry, the topic of tire and road wear particles (TRWP) is an important one that requires research that is thorough, credible and validated by experts. Advancing scientific understanding of TRWP and its potential impacts on human health and the environment is a priority for members of the Tire Industry Project (TIP), a voluntary CEO-led sustainability collaboration for the tire sector. We have supported scientific research into TRWP for more than a decade and welcome all credible contributions to advancing scientific knowledge of these particles.
TIP commissions research that follows good scientific practice to help provide credible answers to questions about the fate and potential human health and environmental impacts of TRWP. The studies we have sponsored to date have found TRWP are unlikely to pose significant risk to human health and the environment; however, we are mindful of an evolving scientific understanding of TRWP and are supporting independent research to improve the knowledge base.
Responsive to new scientific findings, our ongoing study plan includes research into the potential impacts of long-term exposure to TRWP, the degradation of TRWP in the environment, and the presence, fate and transport of TRWP in air, soil, rivers and oceans. Tire trade associations are also playing their part, with important science-based initiatives in place in Europe and the United States to bring stakeholders together to further TRWP research and mitigation and to provide tire-tread test materials for TRWP researchers.
These meaningful contributions are rooted in good scientific practice so that stakeholders can confirm the validity of the methods used and repeat the practices to verify the results. They make a credible contribution to the global state of knowledge on TRWP and are useful for making evidence-based decisions about health and environmental safety.
As an organization that is rooted in science, we recognize the importance of transparency and good scientific practice for evidence-based decision making. However, robust science is often overlooked in media coverage of unverified or incomplete research that lends itself to sensationalist headlines and clickbait. The hype and half-truths born of unverified research are a stealthy threat to sustainability when they lead to thinking that undermines progress for people and planet.
When it comes to sustainability, TIP members are convinced that good scientific practice holds the answers. That is why we are committed to the peer review process and convinced that unverified science should be challenged by asking for evidence.
Image credit: Ed 259/Unsplash
This article series is sponsored by the Tire Industry Project. Members of the Tire Industry Project (in alphabetical order) are Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear, Hankook, Kumho Tire, Michelin, Pirelli, Sumitomo Rubber, Toyo Tires, and Yokohama Rubber.
Gavin Whitmore leads communications for WBCSD’s Tire Industry Project.