Ecotoxicological assessment of tire abrasion in surface runoff from highly frequented roads

  Copyright: © Jessica Brockob
  Copyright: © Luc Meyers

The entries of tire abrasion into the environment via surface runoff from streets have so far been little studied in the literature in terms of quantitative data. Surface runoff is composed of filterable substances, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals, and tire, road, and brake abrasion. The part of tire abrasion is also defined as microplastic (plastic particles < 5 mm) due to the proportion of synthetic rubber (styrene-butadiene rubber). In terms of tire abrasion, this represents by far the largest annual environmental input compared to other microplastic sources.

Due to missing research quantifying the input of tire abrasion into the environment and estimating the associated ecotoxicological risk, the interdisciplinary research project RoadTox will answer these questions by sampling surface water from inner- and outer-urban roads as well as highways. An ecotoxicological risk assessment of the various inputs will be carried out in order to prioritize necessary measures to minimize environmental input. For this purpose, comprehensive bioassays will be carried out and environmental analytical parameters will be determined, which, combined with literature data, will be incorporated into an holistic risk assessment.

The aim of the project is to carry out an ecotoxicological risk assessment on the basis of the sampling and analytical evaluations and to derive recommendations for practical action. Overall, knowledge can thus be gained about the composition of road wastewater and the pollutants it contains, whereby the focus is not on the individual tire abrasion particles, but on the ecotoxicological overall effect of the road wastewater samples.


Information about Research Project RoadTox

Funding Agency

The Ministry for Environment, Agriculture, Conservation and Consumer Protection of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia


January 2021 to December 2023

Project Manager

Dr. rer. nat. Simone Lechthaler
Regina Dolny, M. Sc.
Prof. Dr. Volker Linnemann