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Here’s a quiz:  What distinctly-shaped container is everywhere around you, can be easily filled, but is impossible to completely empty?

You might say a toothpaste tube or pump bottle, but there’s a shape even more stubborn, and that’s an automotive tire. Put water into a tire sometime, and you’ll see that no matter how you turn it, it will always retain some liquid. Getting rid of old tires is a logistical nightmare, because over 290 million tires each year are scrapped. True, an increasing number of those tires are made into nuggets to pave playgrounds, and into substances that end up as pavement, shoes, even energy generation.  But recycling is expensive, and many tires are dumped illegally or used for playground equipment.  

Which is why their shape is so problematic—if you can’t empty an old tire and it is stored or dumped outside, it will fill with water and leaves, stay warm and become the ideal mosquito incubator. According to an EPA blog, a single tire outdoors “if improperly stored, can become a breeding ground for thousands of mosquitoes which can carry life-threatening diseases such as dengue fever, West Nile virus and various forms of encephalitis.”

Pesticides aren’t generally effective with an intact tire. Better to get rid of it at a recycling facility. If you’re going to keep it, drill holes in it where it can drain, or cover it with a tarp or take it indoors to a garage or shed so it can’t collect water.

If you have to be in the vicinity of a dump that has old tires in it, be aware that it will breed mosquitos.

How do you deal with old tires in your community?