There are two things to consider here: the disposal of the spark plug, and the operation of the spark plug. Regarding the latter, some spark plugs can operate in a more efficient way, which can help reduce pollutants during engine combustion. In this sense, however, it is not the spark plug that is really causing the pollution, but the engine as a whole.
As for the disposal, it really depends on what the spark plug is made of. Most spark plugs contain aluminum oxide, copper, nickel, iron, chromium, and other metals. Some newer models also have iridium, yttrium, and silver. Some older spark plugs have radioactive elements in them. If a large number of spark plugs are simply tossed in land fills, it is possible for these metals to become present in groundwater, but perhaps still in “tolerable” amounts. I would be more concerned about the burned residue on a used spark plug making it’s way into the groundwater. The residue will erode faster, so it could likely be present in much greater quantities than the metals.
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