Live and Let Die? Life Cycle Human Health Impacts from the Use of Tire Studs

TitleLive and Let Die? Life Cycle Human Health Impacts from the Use of Tire Studs
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsFurberg A, Arvidsson R, Molander S
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Studded tires are used in a number of countries during winter in order to prevent accidents. The use of tire studs is controversial and debated because of human health impacts from increased road particle emissions. The aims of this study are to assess whether the use of tire studs in a Scandinavian studded passenger car actually avoids or causes health impacts from a broader life cycle perspective, and to assess the distribution of these impacts over the life cycle. Life cycle assessment is applied and the disability-adjusted life years indicator is used to quantify the following five types of health impacts: (1) impacts saved in the use phase, (2) particle emissions in the use phase, (3) production system emissions, (4) occupational accidents in the production system, and (5) conflict casualties from revenues of cobalt mining. The results show that the health benefits in the use phase in general are outweighed by the negative impacts during the life cycle. The largest contribution to these negative human health impacts are from use phase particle emissions (67–77%) and occupational accidents during artisanal cobalt mining (8–18%). About 23–33% of the negative impacts occur outside Scandinavia, where the benefits occur. The results inform the current debate and highlight the need for research on alternatives to tire studs with a positive net health balance.

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