Emissions from Tires Worse than Tailpipes

can be reached at nwakelin@gmail.com
can be reached at nwakelin@gmail.com
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Tire-wear pollution can be as much as 1,000 times worse than exhaust emissions, according to a study conducted by Emissions Analytics. Exhaust emissions are tightly regulated, but there are no such regulations surrounding tire wear, which makes them a growing environmental concern.

  • Emissions from tire wear are worse than exhaust emissions.
  • Part of the problem is caused by the increase in heavy vehicles on the road today.
  • Even electric vehicles with their heavy batteries are part of the problem.

While exhaust emissions are improving, tire wear pollution is getting worse. The amount of particulate matter emitted by tires as they wear is higher for heavier vehicles, and today’s consumers are increasingly buying SUVs that weigh much more than sedans.

The emissions from tire wear are worse than the tailpipe emissions. (Photo: Getty Images)

Electric vehicles are part of the problem

Even electric vehicles are to blame for increased tire-wear pollution. Although not as hefty as a big SUV, an electric sedan is still heavy due to its electric battery. The combined non-exhaust emissions (NEE) emitted by heavy vehicles is having a negative impact on air quality.

It’s believed that NEE now comprise the bulk of particulate matter from road transport. This includes brake and tire wear, road-surface wear, and the re-suspension of road dust during vehicle usage. The UK-based Air Quality Expert Group recommended NEE be recognized as a source of particulate emissions pollution, even for electric vehicles.

Emissions Analytics performed testing to determine the extent of the problem by conducting a tire-wear test. It found 5.8 grams per kilometer of NEE were emitted by a popular family hatchback. By comparison, exhaust emissions are limited to 4.5 milligrams per kilometer. That’s 1,000 times more NEE than the maximum allowable exhaust emissions.


As we work to decrease the impact of vehicle pollution on the environment, it’s important to understand all the potential sources. While it’s good to continue reducing exhaust emissions, non-exhaust emissions should also be considered to find a solution.

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can be reached at nwakelin@gmail.com
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