Sources and properties of non-exhaust particulate matter from road traffic: a review

Sci Total Environ. 2008 Aug 1;400(1-3):270-82. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.06.007. Epub 2008 Jul 16.


While emissions control regulation has led to a substantial reduction in exhaust emissions from road traffic, currently non-exhaust emissions from road vehicles are unabated. These include particles from brake wear, tyre wear, road surface abrasion and resuspension in the wake of passing traffic. Quantification of the magnitude of such emissions is problematic both in the laboratory and the field and the latter depends heavily upon a knowledge of the physical and chemical properties of non-exhaust particles. This review looks at each source in turn, reviewing the available information on the source materials and particles derived from them in laboratory studies. In a final section, some of the key publications dealing with measurements in road tunnels and the roadside environment are reviewed. It is concluded that with the exception of brake dust particles which may be identified from their copper (Cu) and antimony (Sb) content, unequivocal identification of particles from other sources is likely to prove extremely difficult, either because of the lack of suitable tracer elements or compounds, or because of the interactions between sources prior to the emission process. Even in the case of brake dust, problems will arise in distinguishing directly emitted particles from those arising from resuspension of deposited brake dust from the road surface, or that derived from entrainment of polluted roadside soils, either directly or as a component of road surface dust.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollutants / chemistry
  • Dust / analysis
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Motor Vehicles*
  • Particulate Matter / analysis*
  • Particulate Matter / chemistry
  • Rubber / analysis
  • Rubber / chemistry
  • Transportation
  • Vehicle Emissions


  • Air Pollutants
  • Dust
  • Particulate Matter
  • Vehicle Emissions
  • Rubber