Vehicle-related particulate matter (PM) emissions may arise from both exhaust and non-exhaust mechanisms, such as brake wear, tire wear, and road pavement abrasion, each of which may be emitted directly and indirectly through resuspension of settled road dust. Several researchers have indicated that the proportion of PM2.5 attributable to vehicle traffic will increasingly come from non-exhaust sources. Currently, very little empirical data is available to characterize tire and road wear particles (TRWP) in the PM2.5 fraction. As such, this study was undertaken to quantify TRWP in PM2.5 at roadside locations in urban centers including London, Tokyo and Los Angeles, where vehicle traffic is an important contributor to ambient air PM. The samples were analyzed using validated chemical markers for tire tread polymer based on a pyrolysis technique. Results indicated that TRWP concentrations in the PM2.5 fraction were low, with averages ranging from < 0.004 to 0.10 µg/m3
, representing an average contribution to total PM2.5 of 0.27%. The TRWP levels in PM2.5 were significantly different between the three cities, with significant differences between London and Los Angeles and Tokyo and Los Angeles. There was no significant correlation between TRWP in PM2.5 and traffic count. This study provides an initial dataset to understand potential human exposure to airborne TRWP and the potential contribution of this non-exhaust emission source to total PM2.5.
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