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Concerns rise over tyre and brake particle pollution

part-worn tyres

Pressure is likely to mount on suppliers of tyres and braking products to play a greater part in reducing pollution from road traffic.

The government’s Air Quality Expert Group has published a report today which warns that particles from brake wear, tyre wear and road surface wear directly contribute to more than half of the particle pollution created by road transport.

It has warned that the tiny particles will still pollute city air even after the UK’s 32 million car parc has transitioned away from internal combustion engines.

The Air Quality Expert Group warns that no legislation is currently in place specifically to limit or reduce such particles.

"Data from the UK National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory indicate that particles from brake wear, tyre wear and road surface wear currently constitute 60% and 73% (by mass), respectively, of primary PM2.5 and PM10 emissions from road transport, and will become more dominant in the future.

"Currently they contribute 7.4% and 8.5% of all UK primary PM2.5 and PM10 emissions. Therefore to achieve further gains in PM2.5 and PM10 air quality in relation to road transport sources requires attention to reducing nonexhaust emissions, not solely a focus on lowering exhaust emissions," the report stated.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “Emissions from car exhausts have been decreasing through development of cleaner technologies - and there is now a need for the car industry to find innovative ways to address the challenges of air pollution from other sources."

Recently the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions urged the government to develop a strategy that will allow people to have a good standard of living without needing to own a car.

It warned that moving motorists into electric vehicles is not a long term solution, particularly in urban areas, which are where demand for EVs is strongest currently.

And parts of the government believe that getting more people out of their cars, into more active ways of travel such as walking and cycling, is part of the solution to public health issues such as obesity.

But last year a report found that even people in the UK's capital city would be reluctant to give up their cars, despite their worries about congestion and pollution. (Click here to read 'Londoners won't give up their cars despite environmental concerns')

  • For the full report from the Air Quality Expert Group click here.

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