Mitigation of suspendable road dust in a subpolar, oceanic climate

Brian Charles Barr, Hrund Ólöf Andradóttir*, Þröstur Þorsteinsson, Sigurður Erlingsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tire and road wear particles (TRWP) are a significant source of atmospheric particulate matter and microplastic loading to waterways. Road wear is exacerbated in cold climate by the widespread use of studded tires. The goal of this research was to assess the anthropogenic levers for suspendable road dust generation and climatic conditions governing the environmental fate of non-exhaust particles in a wet maritime winter climate. Sensitivity analyses were performed using the NORTRIP model for the Capital region of Reykjavík, Iceland (64.1° N). Precipitation frequency (secondarily atmospheric relative humidity) governed the partitioning between atmospheric and waterborne PM10 particles (55% and 45%, respectively). Precipitation intensity, however, increased proportionally most the drainage to waterways via stormwater collection systems, albeit it only represented 5% of the total mass of dust generated in winter. A drastic reduction in the use of studded tires, from 46% to 15% during peak season, would be required to alleviate the number of ambi-ent air quality exceedances. In order to achieve multifaceted goals of a climate resilient, resource efficient city, the most important mitigation action is to reduce overall traffic volume. Reducing traffic speed may help speed environmental outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9607
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Other keywords

  • Microplastics
  • Non-exhaust emissions
  • Particulate matter


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