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Pollution from tyre wear can be 1,000 times worse than what comes out of a car’s exhaust, according to research conducted by Emissions Analytics.

Harmful particle matter from tyres – and also brakes – is a growing environmental problem and 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, the firm said.

Non-exhaust emissions are particles released into the air from brake wear, tyre wear, road surface wear and resuspension of road dust during on-road vehicle usage and no legislation is in place to limit or reduce non-exhaust emissions, the company said.

Highways England tyre safety

It performed initial tyre wear testing using a family hatchback running on brand new, correctly inflated tyres and found that the car emitted 5.8 grams per kilometre of particles. Compared with regulated exhaust emission limits of 4.5 milligrams per kilometre, the tyre wear emission is higher by a factor of over 1,000.

The firm added that this could be even higher if the vehicle had tyres which were underinflated, or the road surfaces used for the test were rougher, or the tyres used were from a budget range.

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 tyre and brake wear. 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.”