There’s a big problem where the rubber meets the road: microplastics.

Scientists analyzed more than 500 small particles pulled from the air around three busy German highways, and found that the vast majority — 89 percent — came from vehicle tire emissions, brake systems and roads themselves. All together, these particles are classified by the researchers as microplastics, though they include materials other than plastic.

Those particles get blown by wind and washed by rain into waterways that lead to the ocean, where the debris can harm aquatic animals and fragile ecosystems, says environmental scientist Reto Gieré of the University of Pennsylvania. He presented the findings on November 6 at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Indianapolis.

Read more at ScienceNews.

Earlier in The BRAKE Report: Chassis Brakes, MANN + HUMMEL work to cut brake emissions