A new study has revealed that tyre emissions could be much worse than those coming from car exhausts. Testing was undertaken using a popular family hatchback, running brand new, correctly-inflated tyres.
The experiment was undertaken by Emissions Analytics, which has previously highlighted the issue of tyre emissions. The new study backs up those concerns.
Tyre emissions tested
For reference, Euro 6D emissions regulations state that a car should emit no more than 0.0045g/km of exhaust particulates. Emissions Analytics found that tyres, brakes and road surfaces combined emit 5.8g/km of non-exhaust emissions (NEE) – that’s 1,289 times worse. Tyre wear pollution is currently unregulated.
In reality, few cars will be running on new tyres inflated to the correct pressures. This means the actual NEE emissions figures could be much worse than the results of the Emissions Analytics test.
The UK government’s Air Quality Expert Group has requested before that NEEs be recognised as a source of airborne particulates, even on electric vehicles (EVs). It’s been pointed out before that EV NEE figures could be worse than an equivalent petrol or diesel-powered car.
“It’s time to consider not just what comes out of a car’s exhaust pipe but particle pollution from tyre and brake wear,” said Richard Lofthouse, senior researcher at Emissions Analytics.
“Our initial tests reveal that there can be a shocking amount of particle pollution from tyres – 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, tyre wear is totally unregulated – and with the increasing growth in sales of heavier SUVs and battery-powered electric cars, non-exhaust emissions are a very serious problem.”
Emissions regulations ‘frankly out of date’
“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challenge to the industry and regulators is an almost complete black hole of consumer information, undone by frankly out of date regulations still preoccupied with exhaust emissions,” said Nick Molden, CEO of Emissions Analytics.
“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 tyres is not for us to say – but change has to come.”