Road traffic metals : sources and emissions

Abstract: As the environmental regulations and technical progress have forced the factories’ old “end of pipe” solutions to improve, the metal emissions from point sources have decreased. Instead, the diffuse consumption emissions from goods in use now are in focus. The increased awareness of traffic as a major diffuse metal emission source emphasizes the need for more detailed information on the various traffic related sources. The main scope of this thesis is to study specific parts of metal emissions from some road traffic related sub sources such as brake lining and tyres. The metals in focus are antimony (Sb), cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), chromium (Cr), lead (Pb), nickel(Ni) and zinc (Zn), and the research quantifies emissions from the different sub sources, trace changes over time as well as dispersal patterns and metal mobility in the roadside environment. The results show that even if the road traffic associated metal stocks are small compared to total in use stocks, their emissions are of major importance. The updated figures show that despite material developments during the last 10 years, tyres still are one of the main sources of Zn and Cd, while it can be excluded as a source of concern for the other metals studied. Brake linings are shown to be an especially pronounced source for Cu and Sb. The Pb and Cd emissions from brake linings and tyres have decreased as a result of decreasing material concentrations in these sources, most likely a result of EU regulations. Further the results reveals galvanized goods to be a major road traffic related source for Zn. The results show that the total metal concentrations in roadside soils have increased 3-16 times compared to regional background during the last decades. Each metal has a limited dispersal distance from the roads as well as down in the soil profile. Most metals are found within 10 m from the road in the uppermost 10 cm of the topsoil. However, the sequential extractions show that a large part of the metals found in the soil are rather easily mobilized and can be redistributed if the roadside soils become disturbed. Metals emitted due to decelerating activities are not correlated to elevated concentrations near road junctions. Instead the metals appear to be more evenly spread along the whole driven distance. The study points out Sb as an element that might be problematic to analyse. For Sb, which is sparsely studied as a roadside contaminant, there is a need of more general knowledge as it has a high accumulation rate in roadside soils.