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Non-exhaust Particulate Emissions from Road Transport

An Ignored Environmental Policy Challenge

image of Non-exhaust Particulate Emissions from Road Transport

Non-exhaust emissions of particulate matter constitute a little-known but rising share of emissions from road traffic and have significant negative impacts on public health. This report synthesizes the current state of knowledge about the nature, causes, and consequences of non-exhaust particulate emissions. It also projects how particulate matter emissions from non-exhaust sources may evolve in future years and reflects on policy instrument mixes that can address this largely ignored environmental issue.

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Policy responses to tackle particulate matter from non-exhaust emissions

Few policy measures currently target non-exhaust emissions. Two broad approaches can be taken to reduce non-exhaust emissions from road traffic, namely either lowering emission factors or reducing vehicle-kilometres travelled. One solution of the former type would involve changing urban travel altogether by switching to technology that does not rely on friction for acceleration and deceleration (e.g. propulsion via magnets, as is used by Maglev trains). This report does not explore such a fundamental shift, as it is not a realistic possibility for micro-level urban passenger travel in the near term. Exceptions come in the form of regulations regarding brake and tyre material, and mitigating measures such as street washing that are taken in some areas. To the extent that supply-side regulations may require extended approval processes, policy measures that reduce vehicle-kilometres travelled can yield more immediate impacts in terms of mitigating non-exhaust emissions.

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