It has been found that the dust generated when automobile tires wear out accelerates the diffusion of fine dust.
According to results of a recent study conducted by the Ministry of Environment, the annual emissions of fine dust (PM10) and super fine dust (PM2.5) caused by the wear of tires in the metropolitan area are expected to reach 1,833 tons and 1,283 tons in 2024, respectively. The combined amount is equivalent to 49.2 percent of emissions, 6,331 tons, caused by construction projects in the same region seven years ago.
“When a diesel vehicle runs a distance of 1 km, the exhaust gas generates 5 mg of dust while the quantity of the dust due to the wear of the tires amounts to 100 mg,” said Jung Yong-il, who heads the development of eco-friendly vehicle technologies at the ministry. “Tires, by nature, contain a large amount of heavy metal pollutants such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chrome, and phthalate materials, and thus are more harmful than general dust,” the reported added.
The social cost of the dust is estimated at 924 won (US$0.90) per tire, which is divided into 346 won (US$0.33) in medical and health costs and 578 won (US$0.56) for road cleaning.
In the meantime, Hankook Tire recorded 7.06 trillion won (US$6.9 billion) in sales and 1.031 trillion won (US$1.0 billion) in operating profits last year, with an operating profit rate of 17.2 percent. The business profit rates of Kumho Tire and Nexen Tire were 9.4 percent and 10.2 percent during the same period, respectively.
The U.S. government imposes taxes on tire manufacturers and importers in order to address the problems attributable to tires, and Italy is mulling over imposing an environmental tax of up to four euros (US$5.42) on each newly-purchased tire. “Similar measures need to be taken on tire makers according to the polluter-pays principle,” the Ministry pointed out, continuing, “Low-wear tires, which reduce the emission of fine dust by 30 percent, are scheduled to be recommended to automakers from 2015 but this is not compulsory.”