Pollutant Information: Zinc
Category: Heavy metals and base cations
Although zinc poses no documented health risks, if its physical state is altered during use then health risks can be created. Inhalation of metallic oxide fumes can lead to metal fume fever. Emissions of zinc have declined by 59% since 1990. The main sources in 2016 were road transport (36% of UK emissions), the use of recovered waste lubricants as fuel (23%), and steelmaking (17%), and road transport. Emissions arising from road transport include those from tyre wear which contributed 18% of total zinc emissions in 2016, and which arises from the zinc content of the tyre rubber – around 2% zinc oxide by weight. The remainder of the road transport emission is from use of both diesel and petrol, as well as wear to brake pads. The reduction in UK zinc emissions since 1990 is largely due to the decline in coal combustion, improvements in abatement measures in the metal industries and the closure of the UK's only primary zinc manufacturing plant.
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