Vehicle non-exhaust emissions - revealing the pathways from source to environmental exposure

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  • University of Birmingham


Brakes, tyres and road deposits have become important contributors to the overall particle emissions of vehicles globally, with constituents in these wear particles considered to be harmful to human health (PM10 and PM2.5). Previous research has documented mass/size distributions, physical and chemical characteristics, emission factors and long-term implications and environmental occurrences. The complex path these pollutants take from their origins to the environment, however, is not fully understood. This is partly owing to the breadth of spatio-temporal scales involved in the advection-diffusion processes (nanometers to meters, microseconds to minutes). These short timescale particle transport mechanisms impact human exposure, such as pedestrians and cyclists, and initiate the long-term interaction of these pollutants with other environmental compartments. Here, we present an analysis for urban driving conditions to highlight the opportunities to reveal these complex pathways and formulate opinions that aim to stimulate future enquiry. We describe important vehicular areas and exposure scenarios where efforts should focus. Future interdisciplinary research into these particle transport mechanisms must be prioritised as it can provide the foundation for developing urgently needed pollution control strategies, transport infrastructure layouts and transport policies that mitigate, or possibly eliminate pollution exposure risks.

Bibliographic note

Funding Information: The authors acknowledge use of High Performance Computing facilities at the University of Birmingham (BlueBEAR). We are also grateful for the support from the Institute for Global Innovation ( IGI ) within the IGI- IAS Clean Air Emerging Theme. Publisher Copyright: © 2020 Elsevier Ltd


Original languageEnglish
Article number115654
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Early online date4 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Brake wear, Emission exposure, Non-exhaust, Tyre wear, Vehicle emissions