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Automobile Brake Linings, Tires Remain Major Sources of Toxic Metals

23 July 2007

Particles worn away from automobile brake linings and tires continue to be major sources of potentially toxic metal emissions in urban areas despite new regulations and auto industry efforts to reduce the use of the metals, according to a new study scheduled for the 1 August issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

In the study, David S. T. Hjortenkrans and colleagues compared metal emissions from brake linings and tires to other metal emission sources in Stockholm during 1995 and from 1998-2005.

During this period, copper and zinc emissions from brake linings remained relatively unchanged at high levels that make them a major source of these metals, the researchers said. Brake linings were also a source of another toxic metal, antimony. By contrast, lead and cadmium emissions from brake linings decreased by one-tenth during this period.

The study found that emissions of many metals (Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and (probably) Sb) declined between 1995 and 2005, as manufacturers reduced metal concentrations in tire treads. Tires, however, remained one of the largest sources of zinc and an important source of cadmium.

Emissions from the road traffic sector accounted for approximately 50% or more of total toxic metal emissions, depending upon the metal, in Stockholm.

As Stockholm represents a rather average city in most respects, the results from this study may be relevant for many other urban areas.

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July 23, 2007 in Emissions | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)

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Regen braking should help out on the brake pad end of things, but how do you reduce the tire pollution? (other than not driving)

Gentle driving and proper inflation will reduce tire wear, hence tire pollution reduction. Driving smaller and lighter cars with small, skinny tires instead of humongous SUV's tires will help reduce self-poisoning a lot!

Funny, the last time I checked, tires are still made from vulcanized rubber and not metal! The vulcanization process adds sulfur and heat to the rubber to make it durable and non sticky, but adding toxic metals like lead, cadmium and chrominum (?) to tire tread? That's crazy! I thought that adding lead [tetra-ethyl] to gasoline, and asbestos to your break pads at one time was dumb enough. And then, there still tons of mercury released from coal-fired power plants that utility companies are trying to fight regulations to clean up their smoketacks. In fact, the mercury released from coal-burning in China is making ways around the world.

Well, apparently the fall of the Roman empire due to lead contamination, and the decrease in IQ's from the previous generation growing up under exposure to lead in car exhaust weren't enough to convince the powers that be to develop policies to quit poisoning ourselves.
Oh, I see, that'll hurt the economy! Oh yeah, like the economy will matter a lot if the future generations will be demented and deformed!

Another reason for Dynamic Braking used in EVs and HEVs.

But Electrolytes are what plants crave!

And Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb stimulate the economy!

Don't you know anything?

[sarcasm]

I say mandate regenerative braking and apply an attention-getting tax on all toxic (especially neurotoxic) materials used in wear zones of tires, brakes, and drive belts. I predict all kinds of solution 'discoveries' will come out of the woodwork.

An example: Ameritire has been working on their solution for this, using polyurethane to replace rubber. See http://www.ameritire.com/index2.cfm?group=tech&function=polyvsrubber

BTW, speaking of lead in the air, I understand that they never stopped using lead in gasoline in the Arab world, like in Iraq. It seems funny that nobody seems to take heed of research like Rick Nevin's studies that statistically point to childhood exposure to lead, mostly from gasoline, as the major cause of the soaring crime rates we had in the West during the 20th century. I say in Iraq, this could explain a lot. And could better inform what we're up against. It also says something about how inspired our efforts are to give Iraq a future if we haven't done anything about it.

I have Prius 2001 with 82,000 miles and my brake pads are used only about 30%. Plus a lot of saved gas. Very obvious benefits of regenerative braking. Listen, Ford and GM!!!

Andrey:

Is this mostly city driving?

Imaging what quicker charge batteries and/or super caps could do to make brakes last even longer.

Particulate emssions from tires are difficult to address, because soot is needed as a filler material. In addition, roads need to be rough to ensure adequate grip. Perhaps Michelin's new Tweel concept will one day give tire engineers more freedom in how they implement the contact surface, incl. its particulate emissions.

Meanwhile, it's probably a good idea to keep things in perspective. The majority of particulates in the air - except in the immediate vicinity of heavy traffic - comes from other sources such as plant pollen, dust from agricultural acreage, houshold furnaces and industrial combustion.

As for the brakes, on option would be to replace the mechanical friction devices with eddy current models, with electricity supplied by electric generators attached to the driveshaft. While expensive, this system would be double-acting: recuperation + eddy-current dissipation. It would also be possible to better protect the brake rotors from the elements as the surface would not be subject to abrasion. This also means such a brake system could be used as a retarder for controlled hill descents - currently, only HDVs feature (hydraulic) retarder systems.

Traction batteries and/or ultracaps could be added later once they become more affordable.

...research like Rick Nevin's studies that statistically point to childhood exposure to lead, mostly from gasoline, as the major cause of the soaring crime rates we had in the West during the 20th century.
Here's a tip: Don't believe everything you read. Now that human lead levels are vastly lower, are we seeing a corresponding decline in crime? Not if the size of our prison population is any indication.

Zinc and Copper are dangerous toxins? They are both in my multivitamin. Oh NO! Maybe the quantities of the various metals, of which there is no mention in this article, is important, no? This report is nothing more than slightly sophisticated scare-mongering.

By Geoge, you've almost raised a good point there, as scare mongering can be real...except for the last sentence of the article: "Emissions from the road traffic sector accounted for ~50% or more of total toxic metal emissions, depending on the metal, in Stockholm..."
We also know that Sweden has more stringent environmental standards than most other countries, and 50% is not a small number. Go figure!

Truck, taxi drivers and street vendors would have a disproportional exposure to these toxic metal emissions, so I would worry more for them. That may be one reason why truckers have more health problems than the average population.

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