Tyres produce vastly more particle pollution than exhausts

17 June 2022

A recent Emissions Analytics report concluded that ‘Tyres are eclipsing the tailpipe as a significant source of vehicle emissions. ‘It seems that as much as 300,000 tonnes of tyre rubber are emitted yearly from the UK and the USA.’

The worrying headline is that almost 2,000 times more particle solution is produced by tyre wear than from exhaust emissions. The problem is that the particulates pollute the air, water and soil; these particulates carry a wide assortment of toxic organic compounds, including known carcinogens.

The positive news is that particle emissions from new cars (in developed countries) are, according to Emissions Analytics, now so low that if you were starting afresh, you wouldn’t even bother regulating them.

The flip-side is that motor cars are getting heavier, especially with current Battery Electric Vehicle, and tyre wear from heavier cars with additional wheel torque produce even greater tyre wear. Added to this, the different wear rate of other brands was significant, even more so, the toxic chemical content.

And to make matters worse other recent research has suggested that tyre particles constitute a significant source of the microplastics polluting the oceans; more than 200,000 tonnes of tiny plastic particles are blown from roads into the oceans yearly. The study suggests wind-borne micro-plastics are a more significant source of ocean pollution than rivers, which to date is where research has focussed.

Currently, there are no regulations on the wear rate of tyres and little regulation on the chemicals they contain.