Health impact of tyre particles causing ‘increasing concern’, say scientists
The report estimates 52% of all the small particle pollution from road transport came from tyre and brake wear in 2021, plus a further 24% from abrasion of roads and their paint markings. Just 15% of the emissions came from the exhausts of cars and a further 10% from the exhausts of vans and HGVs.
[...] Small particles separate from tyres as cars travel, become airborne and can be inhaled deep into the lungs. Air pollution causes 26,000 to 38,000 early deaths a year in England and particle pollution has been linked to a wide range of diseases. Larger particles of tyre wear are washed or blown into rivers and seas and are a significant component of the plastic pollution that has contaminated both people’s bodies and the planet, from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans.
The Imperial College London report says 6m tonnes of tyre wear particles are released globally each year. In London alone, it says, 2.6m vehicles emit about 9,000 tonnes of particles annually.
The particles may contain toxic chemicals including polyaromatic hydrocarbons and benzothiazoles, and heavy metals such as zinc and lead, the scientists said. But research on tyre wear and its effects had been neglected compared with work on fuel emissions, they said.