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As vehicle tires wear out, what happens to the trillions of microscopic particles that are shed? Do they end up in the air for us to breathe and in the water ways?

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James Thomas Rook Jr. -
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Wow, an important question, I congratulate you for your environmental awareness!

Yes, most certainly they do.

It’s easy to understand. One of the fundamental physical principles of our Space-Matter-Time universe is that matter - protons and by all practical means also neutrons, the little guys every atom and ultimately objects such as tires and organisms such as human bodies consists of - are indestructible.

In simple terms: Everything that is no longer part of your tires cannot disappear, it must be in some form somewhere else in your environment.

Car tires must be made of materials that are naturally as unrecyclable as possible. Else, your tires would instantly start to rotten the moment they are produced and later put on your car, whether you drive around at all or not.

The moment your car starts to move, every inch you drive, the parts of your tires that are touching the ground below them are physically sandpapered. In other words, tiny bits of your tires are torn off continuously. It is physically unavoidable. That is why your tires wear at all - almost in direct relationship to the km/miles you have accumulated with them. You cannot drive around without polluting environment with such particles.

However, with tire-conscious driving skills (e.g. with a tire-conscious accelerating, breaking, and turning technique), you can substantially reduce unnecessary tear of your tires, hence, achieve both, a longer “life” of your tires and less tire particles you pollute our environment with per km/mile driven.

Tire particles are non-negotiably toxic in as much as they do not naturally exist. Hence, no human organism is equipped in any way to deal with them.

They are as tiny as tire manufacturers can manage. A fast wearing tire does not sell well. Hence, they are too light to settle down fast, they are mostly floating in the air, carried over enormous distances and spread everywhere by wind.

Doing that, they become a serious threat to all breathing animals (including yourself and e.g. your pets), clogging up lungs exactly the same way (and in no way less harmfully) as the cinders of a cigarette you smoke would.

Hence, tire particles are “carcinogens” (increasing risk of cancer) and before that they are serious “allergens” that trigger allergic reactions of parts of our body that are in direct contact with polluted air, particularly your skin and your entire respiratory tract.

Note, it does not matter by what means your car drives. An electric car is in no way better in this respect. Contrary, it is likely worse as long as it is battery powered because it is slightly heavier than the same model with a gasoline or diesel engine would be, which forces tires to wear faster. Hence, you must produce more tire particles per km/mile driven.

Tire particles are a substantial component of cinder-type toxic “micro-dust”, that actually hardly settles and travels extremely far - carried by wind. By quantity, tire particles are certainly some of the worst (yet widely ignored) man-made air pollutants.

While floating in the air, tire particles absorb sunlight by warming up. They conserve the heat and carry it over into the night. They have no choice but to contribute to global warming, forced by the laws of physics.

The only thing that can get tire particles out of the air for good to some degree is rain.

However, rain does not make them disappear. They are now in the soil we produce food on and fall on trees, forests, waterbodies, etc.. They are in the water system of our planet - as toxic as ever - and way too tiny for us to have a chance to filter them out mechanically (they are in fact smaller than microscopic).

The only way to get them out of the water for good would be chemically, extremely expensive and practically impossible. We would also have to filter rainwater falling on fields, trees, and forests. Hence, many tire particles have no option but to poison soils, end up in rivers, lakes and ultimately accumulate in oceans.

Some water filters you may use to purify the water you drink may reduce (not eliminate) the number of tire particles you swallow, However, the rest of them are now in your water filter. Your filter, too, cannot make them disappear. What do you do with it when replacing it?

Micro-dust - in particular also tire particles - produced by motor-vehicles has been recognized as a serious health issue in some European countries. In some areas, this has lead to speed limits. Of course, this is a lame symptom fighting approach. However it is slightly better than nothing, it reduces the maximum possible number of driving cars per hour on a given road, hence the maximum possible particle pollution per hour.

Technology - such as cars - cannot make human life easier. There is no technological comfort whatsoever without its considerable non-negotiable price, a price that would not have to be paid without technology.

Possible solutions:

The only working solution that could decrease tire particle pollution globally (tire particles transported by air couldn’t care less about human political boundaries, whether in the air, on soil, or in water) would of course be less total km/miles driven anywhere on the planet.

This can be achieved in two ways: Either by enforcing a continuously decreasing global maximum km/milage allowance per driver and lifetime (drastic reduction of individual freedom) or by producing a little less babies than people die (reducing the number of future polluters) - or, for quicker results, a combination of both.

There is no other way to effectively reduce global environmental pollution by tire particles, unless we humans stop using cars.

Benefit of a birth control solution would be that it does not cost any money, does not harm anyone alive, and could be implemented immediately. It would also granted reduce man-made contribution to global warming and simultaneously all other effects of all other forms of man-made pollution. As side effect, it would also simultaneously increase individual health, ease of life, and personal freedom …

As said, as human biologist, I find your question an important one. Thank you for asking!

Martin Gremlich, Executive Founder, Senior Scientist at Institute for Human Biology (2015-present)

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Wouldn't this be another good reason to provide safe mass transit options with high speed rail?

I don't think high speed rail has this problem.

 

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The above explanation is unmitigated bunk.

The micro-fine particles USED to be part of the environment.   The materials that make them up did not come from a parallel dimension where materials unknown to man exist.

When the particles are that small they are severely degraded into their FORMER components by ultra--violet light from the Sun, like being continuously hit by microscopic photon bullets.

  Ever had tires 'Dry Rot" on you?  Over time the tires on the sun side of a long term parked in the sun  RV will be severely degraded and dangerous ... as my neighbor learned last summer.  Before his vacation was over, he had to replace three "new" tires that had been exposed to sun for many years ... all on the sun side.

.... but I digress .....

The micro-fine particles combine with water and dust, and are eaten by microbes.

That is why you do not see drifts of black tire dust on the sides of the roads.

Can I interest you in some Global Warming "Carbon Credits"?

I can print some up for you to make it seem you are "saving the planet", and charge you a lot of money to assume your guilt with this new-found religion.

It's a win-win situation ...... You get to think you are doing something to save the planet ... (how HAPPY She will be ! ), and I get your money!

The only downside, is the greatest scam ever developed has brokers of Carbon Credits ... who want THEIR broker's commission ... like Al Gore.

If you are going to be a sucker .... I want ALL your money!

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5 hours ago, Srecko Sostar said:

People needs to go slowly through life. That means .... walk barefoot, and watch/look/see aka learning around yourself. :))

... and stop from time to time to look at the sky, the birds, and the flowers ... an pick the broken glass out of the bottoms of your bleeding feet .... and massage and scratch the bee stings between your toes that are driving you so absolutely crazy that you want to cut your swollen toes off with a knife.

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