In a bid to tackle the deadly air pollution that plagues urban areas, the EU is to regulate the ultra-fine particles from brake pad abrasion – the black dust that you’ll notice on your car’s wheel rims next time you wash it.
Air pollution in British cities can damage our health from before we are born, dog us throughout our lives, and for around 40,000 of us every year, kill us too.
Polluted air affects all of us, no matter our age and recent studies highlights the damage extends far beyond the lungs. The particles found in diesel exhaust and brake dust are so small they can enter our blood stream and it appears that this polluted air may damage our health before we are even born. Scientists at Queen Mary University of London found evidence that nanoparticles of airborne soot make their way via a pregnant women’s lungs to lodge in the placentas – researchers say it is quite possible the particles entered the foetuses too.
When the Euro 7 regulations are implemented in July 2025, they will move beyond exhaust emissions to include particulate emitted from brake pads as they wear – part of a commitment to limit the emissions of PM2.5 and nanoparticles from all types of combustion engines and from brakes in conventional and electric vehicles alike.
| This type of fine dust can lead to respiratory disorders, the development of cancer, and increased risk of Alzeheimer’s
Electric vehicles (EVs) benefit from regenerative braking, which slows the vehicle using the motor, but EVs tend to be heavier than internal combustion engine cars and still rely on brake pads so air pollution will remain a problem. This type of fine dust, which is referred to as PM2.5, can lead to respiratory disorders, the development of cancer, and increased risk of Alzeheimer’s.
Exposure to particulate matter resulted in some 307,000 premature deaths in the EU in 2019.
One possible solution to the problem caused by toxic brake particulate matter are systems that effectively hoover the dust from the pads and stores it in a filter – an approach that promises to reduce brake dust emissions by up to 90 per cent.
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