Tires have a deleterious effect on the environment. This review discusses the background of scrap tires discarded in the environment, including tire composition, adverse environmental effects, threats to public health and safety, and solid waste management. Despite the widespread use of scrap tires in environmental applications, both land-based and aquatic, data on the indicators of environmental degradation are extremely scarce. Indicators of environmental degradation include analysis of chemicals within the water and sediment, analysis of contaminants within organisms, and analysis of the biological effects of these compounds on plants, animals, microbes, and organelles. Although these indicators are most useful when used in parallel, a review of the available information on chemical characterization of tire leachate from tire storage facilities, manufacturing, usage in recycling applications, and toxicity exposure studies, of vegetation surveys from waste tire areas and reviews of mammalian tire product toxicity, and of toxicity, mutagenicity, and carcinogenicity of tire exposure in experimental aquatic animals, microbes, and organelles is presented. The major characteristics of these studies are discussed in specific sections. The "Discussion and Conclusions" section discusses and summarizes the biological effects and chemical characterization of tire leachates. A global environmental perspective is included to improve our understanding of the deficiency of the current knowledge of tire leachate toxicity from various sources and to encourage interdisciplinary studies to establish the pattern of pollution associated with waste tire management.