There is a newly-found menace on the roads that could be harming our health - brake pads from road vehicles. Scientists have discovered that toxic dust and metal particles from worn-out brake pads could have the same harmful impact on our bodies as diesel emissions. King's College London found that fine dust released when a vehicle brakes could cause a number of health problems. These include an inflammation of the lungs, reduced immunity, an increased risk of respiratory problems, and serious infections like bronchitis or pneumonia. It is estimated that 93 per cent of particulate pollution from traffic comes from sources such as tyres, clutches and brake wear, and road dust.
The scientists say brake dust could be the cause of a condition they have dubbed "London throat". Sufferers are the city dwellers who continually experience runny noses and irritating coughs and colds. These could be caused by people inhaling the brake dust. Metal particles coat the lungs and prevent cells in our immune system from clearing harmful bacteria. Researcher Dr Ian Mudway said dust from the various sources of friction within vehicles casts doubt on motor industry claims of zero-emission cars. He said: "There is no such thing as a zero-emission vehicle. As regulations to reduce exhaust emissions kick in, the contribution from [sources such as brake dust] are likely to become more significant."