28 Sep 2017

Is the air quality of Subways Dangerous for Health?

Subway Air Quality: Assessing Health Risks

There has been much debate of late around the air quality on our streets. Cars, lorries and buses can all cause health hazards with the air pollution they create.

Simple measures can be taken when walking on a busy road, such as taking a side street route when walking through a city which can apparently cut a person’s air pollution exposure by half.

The Government may even start signposting these clean air routes and provide online maps in an attempt to keep people away from heavily polluted main streets to benefit their health.

But what about if you travel by tube or subway?

New research suggests that even worse than the air pollution caused by these vehicles is the pollution on subways and the underground.

According to a study from the University of Surrey, London’s Tube riders experience worse air than those who travel by car. In the worst cases, particulate levels in the subway system can be as much as eight times higher than those experienced by drivers. The pollution caused by motor vehicles may be a menace to health, but when it comes to exposure and potential health effects, it seems you’re worse off underground.

The lack of air control isn’t just making commuters hots and uncomfortable, but it could also be shortening their lives. The study warned that monitors worn by commuters found those on the tube were exposed to 68 micrograms of PM10, with are tiny particles of soot that are breathed into the lungs, compared to eight micrograms of exposure experienced by motorists.

It concluded that there is evidence that this dust in the underground could even evade the protective lining of the airways, and enter underlying tissue and the circulation. The toxicity of ultra fine particles may not be limited to the airways but may involve the cardiovascular system, liver, brain and kidneys.


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