Policy on air pollution tends to focus on pollutants that come from the exhaust fumes of petrol and diesel vehicles, such as NO2 and particulate matter. Little attention is given to particulate matter emissions from brakes, tyres and road surface wear.
To understand their effects on pollution, the UK government has issued a Call for Evidence. The call asks questions about the abrasion of brakes, tyres, road surfaces and road paint and its impact on air pollution. Besides air pollution, particulate matter emissions from brakes, tyres and road surface paints also contribute between 5-10 % of the micro plastics in seas and oceans.
Heavier vehicles emit higher amounts of particulate matter from brakes and tyres and account for higher amounts of road abrasion. This raises questions about non-exhaust emissions from hybrid and electric vehicles. Due to their batteries, electric vehicles are heavier, potentially causing higher particulate matter emissions from some aspects of their operation. At the same time, new technologies such as ‘regenerative braking’ might result in lower particulate matter emissions from brakes.
The Call was issued by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Department for Transport, and Office for Low Emission Vehicles and should feed into a new Clean Air Strategy.
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