London - Electric cars will still pollute the air and rivers due to dust generated by their brakes and tyres, a report says.

The UK government’s pollution advisers warn that the switch to electric cars must be accompanied by ‘urgent’ action to tackle pollutants that don’t come out of the exhaust.

Their chief concern is tiny fragments of microplastics from tyres, road surfaces and brakes, which pollute air and flow into rivers and seas. Ministers have vowed to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040 to crack down on air pollution.

While battery-powered cars produce zero exhaust emissions, the Air Quality Expert Group said particles from brake wear, tyre wear and road surface wear contribute to well over half of particle pollution from road transport. Its report warned: ‘No legislation is currently in place to specifically limit or reduce these particles. So while the legislation has driven down emissions of particles from exhausts, the non-exhaust proportion of road traffic emissions has increased.’

As pollution from exhausts falls, the report said the percentage of pollutants produced by tyres and brakes is set to increase from less than 8 per cent of national emissions to 10 per cent by 2030. In response, the Government said it intended to introduce stricter standards for tyres and brakes.

Environment minister Therese Coffey said there was a need for ‘innovative ways to address the challenges of air pollution from other sources’. She added: ‘The documents published today make clear that it is not just fumes from car exhaust pipes that have a detrimental impact on human health...’

Daily Mail