Tire Wear Worse Than Car Exhaust—Emission Experts
Despite the growing transition from fuel powered cars to electric vehicles, Emissions Analytics has found that pollution from tire wear can be much worse than what comes out of a car’s exhaust.
“Harmful particle matter from tires – and also brakes – is a very serious and growing environmental problem, one that is being exacerbated by the increasing popularity of large, heavy vehicles such as SUVs, and growing demand for electric vehicles, which are heavier than standard cars because of their batteries,” Emissions Analytics shared on their press release.
“What’s more, vehicle tire wear pollution is completely unregulated, unlike exhaust emissions which have been rapidly reduced by car makers thanks to the pressure placed on them by European emissions standards. New cars now emit very little in the way of particulate matter but there is growing concern around ‘non-exhaust emissions’.”
Non-exhaust emissions (NEE) are the particles released into the air due to brake wear, tire wear, road surface wear and resuspension of road dust during on-road vehicle usage. All the loose particles that come from moving vehicles are NEEs. No legislation is in place to limit or reduce NEE, as there isn’t much awareness for it yet, but they cause a great deal of concern for air quality.
To understand just how bad the problem is, and how much particles are expelled, Emissions Analytics performed some initial tire wear testing. After testing a "popular hatchback running on brand new, properly inflated tires", 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 tire wear emission is higher by a factor of over 1,000. Emissions Analytics notes that this could be even higher if the vehicle had tires which were underinflated, or the road surfaces used for the test were rougher, or the tires used were from a budget range – all very recognizable scenarios in ‘real world’ motoring,” they claimed in their statement.
Richard Lofthouse, Senior Researcher at Emissions Analytics said: “It’s time to consider not just what comes out of a car’s exhaust pipe but particle pollution from tire and brake wear. Our initial tests reveal that there can be a shocking amount of particle pollution from tires—1,000 times worse than emissions from a car’s exhaust. What is even more frightening is that while exhaust emissions have been tightly regulated for many years, tire 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.”
“The challenge to the industry and regulators is an almost complete black hole of consumer information, undone by frankly out of date regulations still preoccupied with exhaust emissions. In the short term, fitting higher quality tires is one way to reduce these NEEs and to always have tires inflated to the correct level,” shared Nick Molden, Emissions Analytics CEO.
“Ultimately, though, the car industry may have to find ways to reduce vehicle weight too. What is without doubt on the horizon is much-needed regulation to combat this problem. Whether that leads to specific types of low emission, harder wearing tires is not for us to say – but change has to come.”