Pollution from tyre wear 1,000 times worse than exhaust emissions

This is the finding of Emissions Analytics; that harmful particles from tyres and even brakes are an increasing threat to the environment and it seems that the uprising of SUVs and extremely heavy electric cars.

Unlike exhaust emissions, tyre wear pollution is completely unregulated. Over the years exhaust emissions have been rapidly reduced with car makers placed under pressure by European emission standards but now, the radar is on “non-exhaust emissions”.

Non-exhaust emissions or NEE are particles 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 although they cause a great deal of concern for air quality.

“What’s 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 (NEE) are a very serious problem,” said Emissions Analytics, Senior Researcher, Richard Lofthouse.

To understand the scale of the problem, Emissions Analytics – the leading independent global testing and data specialist for the scientific measurement of real-world emissions – performed some initial tyre wear testing.

Using a popular family hatchback running on brand new, correctly inflated tyres, they found that the car emitted 5.8 grams per kilometer of particles.

Compared with regulated exhaust emission limits of 4.5 milligrams per kilometer, the completely unregulated tyre wear emission is higher by a factor of over 1,000.

Emissions Analytics notes that this could be even higher if the vehicle had tyres which were underinflated or the road surfaces used for the test were rougher or the tyres used were from a budget range – all very recognisable scenarios in ‘real world’ motoring.

“Ultimately, though, the car industry may have to find ways to reduce vehicle weight too. Fitting higher quality tyres is also another way to reduce these NEEs and to always have tyres inflated to the correct level,” said Emissions Analytics, CEO, Nick Molden.


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