Tyre Pollution 1,000 Times Worse Than Exhaust Emissions

According to a study by Emissions Analytics, tyre wear pollution can be 1,000 times worse than what comes out of a car’s exhaust.

Large, heavy vehicles such as SUVs and the growing demand for EVs, which are heavier than standard cars because of their batteries, play a big part in this.

Due to the European emissions standards, exhaust emissions have been reduced and new cars emit very little emissions.

Non-exhaust emissions are particles released in the air from tyre wear, brake wear, road surface wear and resuspension of road dust. Although non-exhaust emissions cause a concern for air quality, there is no legislation in place to reduce this.

Senior Researcher at Emissions Analytics, Richard Lofthouse, 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.”

A test carried out on a family hatchback running on brand new, correctly inflated tyres, showed that the car emitted 5.8g/km of particles. Comparing this with regulated exhaust emission limits of 4.5mg/km, the tyre wear emission is higher by a factor of more than 1,000.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive responded to the findings: “Making sensationalist claims based on testing of a single vehicle is not credible and, quite frankly, irresponsible. Emissions from safety-critical brakes, tyres and road surfaces are very difficult to measure, and a challenge already taken seriously by the sector, governments and a UN global group, which are working together to better understand, and agree, how to test them in a scientific way. Further, there is no evidence to suggest that electric vehicles have a propensity to emit more non-exhaust particulates than any other – in fact, their regenerative braking systems mean wear is significantly reduced.”