Analysis of Tyre Tread for Metal Tracers with Applications in Environmental Monitoring

06 March 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The purpose of this study was to identify a characteristic elemental tyre fingerprint that can be utilised in atmospheric source apportionment calculations. Currently zinc is widely used as a single element tracer to quantify tyre wear, however several authors have highlighted issues with this approach. To overcome this, tyre rubber tread was digested and has been analysed for 25 elements by ICP-MS to generate a multielement profile. Additionally, to estimate the percentage of the tyre made up of inert fillers, thermogravimetric analysis was performed on a subset. Comparisons were made between passenger car and heavy goods vehicle tyre composition, and a subset of tyres had both tread and sidewall sampled for further comparison. Finds showed 19 of the 25 elements were detected in the analysis. The mean mass fraction of zinc detected was 11.17 g/kg, consistent with previous estimates of 1% of the tyre mass. Aluminium, iron, and magnesium were found to be the next most abundant elements, and barium, magnesium and tin were all detected at higher concentrations than have been reported previously. The analysis found significant differences in elemental composition of goods vehicle and passenger car tyres, which could potentially allow for separate source profiles for each type. Only one source profile for tyre wear exists in both the US and EU air pollution species profile databases, highlighting the need for more recent data with better coverage of tyre makes and models. This study provides data on new tyres which are currently operating on-road in Europe and is therefore relevant for ongoing atmospheric studies assessing the levels of tyre wear particles in urban areas.


Tire wear
elemental analysis
source profiles


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