A stack of old worn tyres

Tyre wear pollution worse than exhaust emissions

Unregulated tyre wear pollution can be 1,000 times worse than a car’s exhaust emissions.

According to independent real-world automotive testing company Emissions Analytics, harmful particle matter from tyres – and also brakes – is a very serious and growing environmental problem that is being exacerbated by the increasing popularity of large, heavy vehicles such as SUVs. A problem which is exacerbated by the growing demand for electric vehicles, which are heavier than standard cars because of their batteries.

But while exhaust emissions have been reduced by carmakers, under pressure from European emissions standards, vehicle tyre wear pollution is completely unregulated.

Non-exhaust emissions (NEE) particles are released into the air from brake wear, tyre wear, road surface wear and resuspension of road dust during on-road vehicle usage. No legislation is in place to limit or reduce NEE, but they cause a great deal of concern for air quality. NEEs are currently believed to constitute the majority of primary particulate matter from road transport and the UK Government’s Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG) has recommended that NEE are immediately recognised as a source of ambient concentrations of airborne particulate matter, even for vehicles with zero exhaust emissions of particles, such as EVs.

Emissions Analytics has performed tyre wear testing and – using a popular family hatchback running on brand new, correctly inflated tyres – found that the car emitted 5.8 grams per kilometre of particles. Compared with regulated exhaust emission limits of 4.5 milligrams per kilometre, the unregulated tyre wear emission is higher by a factor of over 1,000. Emissions Analytics found that this could be even higher if the vehicle had tyres which were underinflated, the road surfaces used for the test were rougher, or the tyres used were from a budget range.

Richard Lofthouse, senior researcher at Emissions Analytics said: “It’s time to consider not just what comes out of a car’s exhaust pipe but particle pollution from tyre and brake wear. Our initial tests reveal that there can be a shocking amount of particle pollution from tyres – 1,000 times worse than emissions from a car’s exhaust.

What is even more frightening is that while exhaust emissions have been tightly regulated for many years, tyre wear is totally unregulated – and with the increasing growth in sales of heavier SUVs and battery-powered electric cars, non-exhaust emissions are a very serious problem

– Richard Lofthouse, senior researcher at Emissions Analytics

Share With:
Rate This Article