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Studded tyres blamed for poor Stockholm air

Joel Linde · 29 Sep 2011, 11:23

Published: 29 Sep 2011 11:23 GMT+02:00

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“In Stockholm and everywhere in the Nordic countries we use studded tyres, and you don’t do that in Los Angeles,” Malin Ekman at the city's Environment and Health Committee told The Local, referring to tyres used during the winter months.

“The particles that are torn up from the studded tyres create relatively high levels if you compare it to where it’s only the particles from exhausts,” she explained.

The WHO has measured more than 1,000 cities of wildly varying sizes across the globe, and while Stockholm fared fairly well by comparison coming in shared 26th place, the city still has work to do to adhere to WHO standards.

Stockholm's air measured an annual average of 28 µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) of air of PM10 particles (a collective name for particles smaller than 10 micrometers in size).

The WHO has a standard of 20 µg/m3 and so the city needs to lose another 8 units to comply.

Ekman pointed out however that Stockholm's air comes in well below the European Union limit of 40.

“The WHO might want to achieve even lower levels, and I think that if we dare to impose the ban on studded tyres on more than just this one street, that we could even get below 20,” she said referring to Hornsgatan in central Stockholm.

Starting January 1st, 2010, the city of Stockholm introduced a ban on the use of studded tires on Hornsgatan in response to readings showing excessively high levels of PM10, which at times places the street among the worst in Europe for air quality.

According to a new report from the city released on Wednesday, the ban on studded tyres has already resulted in traffic decreasing by 25 percent, and a halving of the PM10 emissions, during the winter period.

According to a survey in 2010, 41 percent of Stockholm's citizens are cautiously positive to the idea of a city-wide ban on studded tyres, while 28 percent don’t think that it’s a good idea.

“There are several scientific studies that show this problem is mainly due to the studded tyres,” Malin Ekman said, adding that the city is planning to use a particle-binding road surface ahead of the coming winter.

This system of particle-binding material is already used in for example Gothenburg, and is meant to keep the harmful PM10 from ending up in people’s lungs.

But according to several City of Stockholm reports, the levels of PM10 actually started decreasing a decade before the ban on studded tyres was imposed, which Ekman said was the result of a lively debate and comprehensive information.

Story continues below…

“The Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) made strenuous efforts to inform about the problem and it had been discussed for a long time. I think that is why we were able to try out this ban.”

But there are several other measuring stations in Stockholm that show other figures. The three that show the highest annual levels after Hornsgatan are the heavily-trafficked Sveavägen, Norrlandsgatan and Lilla Essingen/E4.

But there is also the station labeled downtown (Innerstaden), which has never measured levels higher than 17, and is currently showing 13.

“That station is representative of the air people in Stockholm actually breathe,” Ekman concluded. “The common exposure.”

Joel Linde (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:29 September 29, 2011 by andyron2
I still dont believe that Stockholm air is well below EU limit .

crap research in the first place or the research must have been done in Stockholm in the Wisconsin region in USA.
13:56 September 29, 2011 by Scepticion
No, the study is not flawed, it is look at these PM10 particles, not ozon and other air pollutants, where Stockholm is certainly better than many other cities. However, it is true that Stockholm cities are dirty. Certainly the studded tires make lots of particles, but then is all the grid that gets thrown on the streets in winter. This is never ever properly cleaned up. Cars get much dirtier than in many other countries.
14:55 September 29, 2011 by Abe L
I doubt the use of studded makes up for the difference in population in cars. Los Angeles has 4x the amount of population and probably 6-8x the amount of cars and industrial traffic.

And even if it's true, nothing will change given the difference in climate and weather conditions. It's not like people in Stockholm drive on studded tires because they enjoy doing so. They cause more fuel consumption and more noise but for a lot of people they are not optional.
15:40 September 29, 2011 by millionmileman
Today's studless snow-tyres are so good that I don't see the need for studs. Many states in the USA ban studs because they chew up the road. I have been using Nokian Tyres for thousands of my winter miles missing only one day of work in 30 years.

Remember Stockholm uses more chemicals to melt snow than the do in London and where are the pollution sensors located? In Wisconsin they were deliberately placed them close to Lake Michigan to read higher rates of ozone so they could cry wolf over, over inflated readings!
15:50 September 29, 2011 by Svensksmith
In the US, they dump thousands of tons of salt on the roads in the winter to melt the ice. The salt damages the roads, the environment and rusts out the metal on the cars.

I'd rather use studded tires.
17:10 September 29, 2011 by Smiling Canuk
Studded tires also chew up the roads. That's why they've been banned in Canada for many years.

Maybe that's why Whitehorse was ranked #1. LOL!
20:03 September 29, 2011 by ShaunD
Studless may be okay in city centres etc. but here in rural Sweden where I live there is absolutely no way I would drive without studded in the winter. There is no way I would be able to feel safe driving to work at 5a.m. after a night of heavy snowfall when the ploughs haven't been out yet (a regular occurance) !

I would only ever consider studless when world rally teams etc. stop using them during the winter, they don't use them for no reason ;)
22:36 September 29, 2011 by jimfromcanada
They only ban studded tyres in Canada in the summer in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. They are allowed in the winter.
23:55 September 29, 2011 by Beavis
Was the study carried out by the makers of non-studded tyres perhaps? Sound like a load of crap to me
00:21 September 30, 2011 by wrexhamian
I lived in Oslo in the later half of the 1980's when there was a big push for people to change to piggfri (stud free) winter tires...the reason, studded tyres caused damage to the roads which was expensive to repair (not unreasonable). But admitted that un-studded tyres were less effective and would cause more deaths on the road. i.e. It was cheaper bury people than maintain the roads. I suspect the same mentality exists here.

ps. I use friction tyres and M/S tyres but know from many years experience that they are much less effective than studded tyres.
00:33 September 30, 2011 by Da Goat
It is more likely to be the ground up grit they put on the road that is the small particles so it is probably just a huge beat up so the melon heads can push their evil agenda

probably got nothing to do with tyres @ all! one would think that the particles would get trapped by the snow and flushed away in the spring.

reports like this are normally bogus
00:35 September 30, 2011 by Svensksmith
I had M/S tires on my truck when I lived in Sweden. One morning I met some blixthälka and my truck met a tree. Studded tires for me.
07:50 September 30, 2011 by karex

Agree with you. I also live in the countryside and am out at 6 am before the ploughs are through. besides, has anyone taken a look at the exorbitant cost of the non-studded snow tires? If the studs are banned, do you think the taxes will be reduced because they won't spend so much on fixing roads? NOT! Then we will still pay for fixing the roads AND more for the alternative.


Agree w/ you too! I'm sorry to say but it's a cultural trait here to find someone or something to place blame on as opposed to taking responsibility, and utterly simplistic to find one culprit to lay the blame on. As in most cases. nothing is ever this simple.
07:59 September 30, 2011 by eltechno
Here in Minnesota, studded tires have been banned since the 1970s so I never actually got used to them. But having driven most of my life without them, I can say that:

1) Since I got my first front-wheel drive car in 1974, I have never been stuck in snow.

2) Snow tires have gotten insanely good. Even all-season tires can deliver stunning performance. My wife got some new Conti Contact DWS for her AWD car last winter and even though they claim to be all-season, they handle ice and snow like dedicated winter tires. It is quite miraculous.

3) Of course studded tires will out-perform anything--that's why the rally racers use them, after all. But since they have so many drawbacks from road destruction to high particulate levels, the obvious solution is to ban them for general use and slow down just a little. While winter driving makes lots of work for body shops, statistically it's a very safe time of the year to drive from a health standpoint.
08:07 September 30, 2011 by RobinHood
Why didn't the WHO boffins factor this into their results? There own comon sense should have told them something wasn't right.

How much does it cost to send a WHO team to every city in the world to take these pointless readings? Enough to feed several thousand Somalian famine victims for several years I would guess.
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