Dust from car brakes and tyres will still pollute city air even when the vehicle fleet has gone all-electric, a report has warned.
Fragments of microplastics from tyres, road surfaces and brakes will also flow into rivers, and ultimately into the sea, government advisers say.
Ministers say they want to pass standards to improve tyres and brakes.
But critics say they need to go further by developing policies to lure people out of private cars.
The government’s Air Quality Expert Group said particles from brake wear, tyre wear and road surface wear directly contribute to well over half of particle pollution from road transport.
They warn: "No legislation is currently in place specifically to limit or reduce [these] particles.
"So while legislation has driven down emissions of particles from exhausts, the non-exhaust proportion of road traffic emissions has increased."
They say the percentage of pollutants will get proportionally higher as vehicle exhausts are cleaned up more.
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And that is an understatement. You can legislate what goes IN to Brake pads, tyres and road surfaces, but have no control on the rate of wear."Brake, tyre and road wear is a recognised challenge as emissions from these sources are not easy to measure."