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Tires are saving us — and killing us, too

Illustration by Nico H. Brausch for The Verge

Tires are the most important safety component on a car, yet there’s increasing research that they’re doing a good deal of harm, too. Slowly, surely, one mote of black dust at a time, tires are leaving their mark on the environment.

According to researchers at Imperial College London, our cars and trucks emit 6 million tons of tire wear particles every year, transportation detritus that goes into the air, the land, and the water. That’s a massive figure that ignores the nearly 250 million tires that are disposed of annually in North America, roughly half of which are burned.

It’s a depressing state of affairs, but there is room for optimism. Every major tire manufacturer globally is raising its game — not only in terms of performance in…

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