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Aqueous OH Radical Production by Brake Wear Particles

NCJ Number
Environmental Science & Technology Letters Volume: 11 Issue: 4 Dated: March 2024 Pages: 315-322
Date Published
March 2024

In this paper, researchers study aqueous OH radical production by brake wear particles (BWPs).


The authors of this study found that brake wear particles (BWPs) do not contain environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs), and all types of BWPs generate exclusively ·OH radicals in water. Particulate matter (PM) emitted from road traffic causes adverse health effects upon inhalation and respiratory deposition. Non-exhaust emissions will eventually become the dominant source of traffic PM upon transition to electric vehicles; however, non-tailpipe PM is currently unregulated as its health impacts are still unclear. In this study, the authors generated brake wear particles (BWPs) with non-asbestos organic, ceramic, and semimetallic brake pads using custom dynamometers and measured aqueous-phase formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). BWPs generated by ceramic and semimetallic brakes during heavier braking lead to higher ·OH yields compared to gentle braking conditions, suggesting higher ·OH formation potential from ultrafine BWPs. Chemical characterization reveals that organic and elemental carbon correlated positively with ·OH formation while exhibiting negative correlations with abundant metals including Fe and Mn. The authors suggest that the source of ·OH is thermal decomposition of organic hydroperoxides derived from phenolic resin. PM oxidative potential quantified with the dithiothreitol (DTT) assay exhibited a positive correlation with the ·OH yield. These results provide critical insights into the toxicity and adverse health effects of BWPs. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: March 1, 2024