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Tyre wear particles: an abundant yet widely unreported microplastic?

Abstract

Owing to their physical and chemical properties, particles generated by the abrasion of tyre tread against road surfaces, or tyre wear particles, are recognised as microplastics. Recent desk-based studies suggest tyre wear to be a major contributor of microplastic emissions to the environment. This study aimed to quantify tyre wear in roadside drains and the natural environment near to a major road intersection. Tyre particles were identified by visual identification and a subsample confirmed as tyre wear by GC-MS using N-cyclohexyl-2-benzothiazolamine (NCBA) as a marker. The abundance of tyre wear within roadside drains was greater in areas associated with increased braking and accelerating than that with high traffic densities (p = < 0.05). Tyre particle abundance in the natural environment ranged from 0.6 ± 0.33 to 65 ± 7.36 in 5 mL of material, with some evidence of decline with distance from the road. This study offers preliminary data regarding the generation and abundance of this under-researched microplastic.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the technical staff at the University of Plymouth: Richard Ticehurst, Richard Hartley, and Roger Haslam. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the University of Plymouth’s Electron Microscopy Centre for their support and assistance in this work.

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Knight, L.J., Parker-Jurd, F.N.F., Al-Sid-Cheikh, M. et al. Tyre wear particles: an abundant yet widely unreported microplastic?. Environ Sci Pollut Res 27, 18345–18354 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-08187-4

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Keywords

  • Microplastics
  • Tire wear particle
  • Vehicle emissions
  • Run-off
  • Traffic density
  • Drainage