A scientific study in Germany has found that car tires, brake systems, as well as the actual roads, give off microplastics that become airborne, eventually contaminating nearby freshwater sources, and ultimately pollute oceans.
The study marks a significant turning point in designers’ attempts to make vehicles more ecologically friendly. For the past 30 years, forward-thinking auto manufacturers have been attempting to reduce vehicle emissions by designing lighter vehicle bodies and more fuel-efficient transmissions. We’ve also seen the advent of hybrid and electric vehicles, which have been popularized by brands like Toyota and Tesla. So far, no major efforts have been made to reduce these newfound microplastic emissions.
The microplastics were found to be more serious in high traffic, as brake systems are used more often. Tires themselves have seen little to no improvements or advances in the past 50 years, with hardened rubber remaining the universal base material.