Particles from car brakes and tyres will continue to pollute air in urban areas even when the vehicle fleet has gone all-electric, a report has warned.
Fragments of microplastics from tyres, road surfaces and brakes will also flow into rivers, and ultimately into the sea, government advisers say.
In its report, Non Exhaust Emissions, the Government’s Air Quality Expert Group said particles from brake wear, tyre wear and road surface wear is responsible for more than half of particle pollution from road transport.
They warn: “No legislation is currently in place specifically to limit or reduce [these] particles.
“So while legislation has driven down emissions of particles from exhausts, the non-exhaust proportion of road traffic emissions has increased.”
They warn that the percentage of such pollutants will get proportionally higher as vehicle exhausts are cleaned up more.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: “The industry is committed to improving air quality and has already all but eliminated particulate matter from tailpipe emissions.
“Brake, tyre and road wear is a recognised challenge as emissions from these sources are not easy to measure.”