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Contribution to Air Pollution Control

As well as being the source of various other emissions, vehicle traffic in Europe is one of the relevant sources of particle emissions. Inhalable particulate matter (PM 10 – particle diameter approx. 0.01 mm), generally referred to as fine particles, is harmful to the human body. In the EU member states, limit values for fine particle pollution have been in force since 2005. In the light of fine particle pollution levels exceeding the permissible 35-days-a-year limit, as reported to an increasing extent by areas with a high population density, the public debate has focused especially on the contribution made by road traffic.

What part does tire and brake abrasion play in contributing to fine particle pollution? In-house studies at Continental, together with independent studies conducted by the European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers’ Association (ETRMA) and the Umweltbundesamt (UBA, the German Federal Environmental Agency), reveal that in Europe the share of abraded tire and brake particles in total fine particle emissions is almost negligible. It accounts for less than 1 percent of all fine particle emissions.

Even with very high traffic densities, the contribution made by tire wear and brake dust to local fine particle emissions is very low. An effective reduction of fine particle pollution can, according to Continental, only be achieved at these critical points when other larger emitters in the local area are included.  Particulate emitters at regional and cross-regional level should also be taken into account because they likewise contribute to local air pollution through their long-distance transportation operations.

Results from the Tire Industry Project (TIP), which has investigated the contribution of tire wear worldwide since 2005 as an initiative of the 11 largest tire manufacturers on the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), confirm the statements made previously. Continental has been actively involved in this project since it began.

Further information on the topic:

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

Continental Memberships