Researchers allege car tyre pollution threat

Swedish scientists claim cars spread 40,000 tonnes of polyaromatic hydrocarbons per year in Europe

Car tyres contaminate Europe's environment with about 40,000 tonnes per year of toxic polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) as vehicles are driven, according to two Swedish researchers. Jan Ahlbom of the Gothenburg government board and Ulf Duus of Sweden's national chemicals inspectorate (KemI) have called on the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency to restrict the PAH content of tyre rubber after publishing their latest research on the theme, which shows that cars fitted with catalytic converters release more PAH from tyre wear than from their exhausts. "This is a growing environmental scandal since the technique to produce environmentally safe tyres is already there," says Mr Ahlbom. "But there is no consumer pressure on the manufacturers to produce them. Most private car owners don't even know about this serious problem." Some tyre manufacturers, like Sweden's Gislaved and Finnish Nokia plant, have switched to environmentally safe oils, according to Mr Ahlbom. This is also the case for the tyre retreadi ng industry in Sweden. "But on the European scene nothing much is happening and the tyre manufacturers are slow to adjust to less hazardous oils," he said.

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