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Not Just the Tailpipe

Image From: : Tire Smoke Emissions
Vehicle use creates emissions in a number of different ways. Tire dust, brake dust, and road wear dust particulate that is toxic to the lungs of everything that breaths. Aggressive driving increases these emissions. Engines and their tail pipes are cleaner now, but we forgot to address the other parts that emit toxic dust/ fumes. 

Ever driven on a road that has ruts? Where did all of that concrete and asphalt go? 

Concrete road use wear ruts : particulate emission source

Those new brake pads disappear after thousands of miles of driving, where did all of that material go? 

Brake Dust Accumulation / vs Cleaned:
particulate emission source

What about all of that tread on your tires; it disappears too, right? 

Tire tread wear (alignment issue causing asymmetry) :
particulate emissions source 

All of this tire wear dust, brake wear dust, and road wear dust represent as much as half of the lung toxic particulate you end up breathing in traffic.

While tail pipe emissions have been reduced by laws governing engine/ tail pipe emissions (ref. clean air act), almost nothing has been done to combat tire wear dust, brake pad wear dust and road wear dust formation: all of these toxic dusts get kicked up by tires as people drive over them, suspending these toxic dusts in the air.

It turns out that agressive driving (racing to the red light/ tail lights), wears out your tires, brakes and the road faster, but it also creates a bunch of extra emissions that you and other people have to breath: we all get sicker from this and your and my and everyone else's health care costs go up: we all share the costs of sickness in society one way or the other. Think about it! The high cost of low prices.

This is exactly why an electrically assisted bicycle makes so much sense. This is exactly why light rail and busses make so much sense. This is exactly why smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient cars make sense. This is why applied science and technology makes so much sense.

Using what we know already, we can go farther, with less money, with lower emissions, and have more fun. We can live healthier, more sustainable and less toxic lives. We can make the world a better place by thinking about it and translating those positive thoughts into choices, actions and behaviors. Each of us has the power to make a difference.

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Looking for a simple Solution? 

Check you tire pressure and adjust it to the right level. Maintaining the correct pressure in your  tires makes your ride nice, improves fuel economy, improves safety (stopping distance and handling,), while also extending tire life which lowers non tail pipe tire wear emissions. 

Go easy on the gas pedal and brake pedal. Try not to race to a red light or to the tail lights of the car infront of yours. Stay calm while driving and try to maintain a steady pace. In stop and go traffic that might be 4mph. Doing 55mph on the freeway will boost your fuel economy by 10% and reduce all of your non tail pipe emissions.

Road wear emissions are a DOT accountability issue. They have the option to use more expensive road materials that stand up longer (break down slower/ less emissions): they can also prohibit the use of studded tires since perfectly functional winter tires with special tread fibers and compounds work just as well without placing excessive wear on the road surface. Studded tires should be outlawed since they no longer have a functional purpose.

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