The danger of polluting dust from car tyres, brakes and road surfaces needs addressing.
That’s the verdict from the government’s Air Quality Expert Group, which provides independent scientific advice on air quality to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
It has suggested that these sources of harmful particulate matter will continue to pollute the air in cities even after the nation’s vehicle fleet has gone 100% electric.
It warns fragments of microplastics be washed down drains, into rivers and ultimately into the sea, where they are likely to negatively affect marine wildlife and habitats.
Airborne particles also harm the health of drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “The documents published today make clear that it is not just fumes from car exhaust pipes that have a detrimental impact on human health but also the tiny particles that are released from their brakes and tyres.
“That is why an ambition of our Clean Air Strategy is to address all sources of particulate matter, including those from transport. Today’s research goes a long way in helping us better understand the problem.
“Emissions from car exhausts have been decreasing through development of cleaner technologies and there is now a need for the car industry to find innovative ways to address the challenges of air pollution from other sources.”