The UK air pollution problem that won’t be solved with switch to electric cars

There has been a call for an urgent review of car brakes and tyres due to the air pollution caused as a result of their wear and tear. Officials have called for changes to address this issue which could cause environmental issues over time. Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey and Transport Minister Michael Ellis said that the dust particles which come off brakes and tyres contribute to the country’s dirty air. In addition to this, they claim that microplastics from these components also flow into rivers and the sea.

Environment minister Thérèse Coffey said: “Emissions from car exhausts have been decreasing through development of cleaner technologies and there is now a need for the car industry to find innovative ways to address the challenges of air pollution from other sources.”

Transport minister Michael Ellis added: “With record levels of ultra-low emission vehicles on the UK’s roads, things are clearly moving in the right direction.

“To continue this progress, we are looking for ways to reduce emissions from other sources such as brakes and tyres.

“We are engaging at an international level to identify how to measure these emissions as well as aiming to develop standards to control them.”

According to a report published by the government’s Air Quality Expert Group claims that half of particle pollution from road transport is made up from the particles from brake wear, tyre use and road surface degradation.

The report said: “Each time a car is driven, tiny pieces of particulate matter such as dust are released into the air from the brake wear, tyre wear and road surface wear.

“These particles enter the airstream having a detrimental impact on human health for drivers, passengers and bystanders.

“Plastic particles from tyres are also deposited into our sewers and lead to harmful consequences to our marine wildlife and aquatic food chains.”

It is estimated that particulate matter will account for 10 per cent of national emissions by 2030.

The problem is that a switch to electric cars would not solve this issue.

Switching to EVs would dramatically reduce NOx and CO2 emissions bit does not deal with particulate matter.

In addition to this, because electric cars are typically heavier due to the big battery and motors the wear of tyres and brakes could be higher than open an internal combustion engine vehicle.

Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said: “Brake, tyre and road wear is a recognised challenge as emissions from these sources are not easy to measure.

“A United Nations global group, including industry experts and government, is working to better understand, and agree how to measure, these emissions.

“Maintenance of the road surface, as well as further investment in new vehicle technologies, is essential to reducing these emissions, without compromising safety and we welcome further research in this area.”

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