STOKENCHURCH, England—A new study out of Europe claims tire wear poses a significantly higher emission problem than vehicle exhaust.
Emissions Analytics said these so-called non-exhaust emissions can be up to 1,000 times worse than emissions from exhaust. The problem, Emissions Analytics said, is compounded by the number of large, heavy vehicles, such as SUVs, on the roads. And, the study noted, the rise in popularity of electric vehicles will add to the problem, because the weight of those vehicles will lead to more rapid tire wear.
"Our initial tests reveal there can be a shocking amount of particle pollution from tires," Senior Researcher Richard Lofthouse at Stokenchurch-based Emissions Analytics said in a statement. "It's time to consider not just what comes out of a car's exhaust pipe but particle pollution from tire and brake wear."
Emissions Analytics is a testing and data company that measures emissions under real-world conditions.
Emissions are commonly measured according to their size with Particulate Matter 2.5 and Particulate Matter 10 being two commonly used thresholds. PM2.5 is described by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as "fine inhalable particles" that are 2.5 micrometers or smaller. PM10 are "inhalable particles" generally 10 micrometers or smaller.
Examples of PM2.5 include combustion particles, organic compounds and metals, while examples of PM10 include dust, pollen and mold. By comparison, human hair is typically 50 to 70 micrometers and fine beach sand is 90 micrometers, the EPA said.
A report released in 2019 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the United Kingdom calls for increased attention to NEE and quantifies its impact.
The U.K. report indicates that tire particulate reduction "can be achieved primarily through reformulation and redesign. Literature does not suggest interest in enclosing the wheel to enable direct capture" of source particulates. There also is talk of filtering airflow around tires to help with capture.
Tire, brake and road surface wear account for 60 percent of the PM2.5 and 73 percent of the PM10 emissions from road transportation in the U.K., the report states. That translates into 7.4 percent of all primary 2.5PM emissions in the U.K. and 8.5 percent of all PM10 emissions.
Emissions Analytics also believes the increased use of less expensive tires is adding to the emissions problem. "Fitting only high-quality tires and lowering vehicle weight are routes to reducing these 'non-exhaust emissions,'" the firm reports.
The U.K. government report is available here.