Air Pollution Alarms Loom In US Subway Systems


Air pollution in US Subway systems is rising as researchers have revealed that the amount of toxic particles in the subway air is alarming. Several researchers have discovered that subway travelers from major US cities such as New York are in dire danger. The levels of PM2.5 particles in metropolitan zones have reached dangerous heights and could be boosting COVID-19 mortality rates in the areas.

Additionally, according to the researchers, trains release harmful particles to the air from the friction between the rails and wheels. When inhaled, the particles penetrate the lungs and may cause serious respiratory problems. There are over 70 underground stations operational over the morning rush hours. If they each cause pollution, one can imagine how dangerous it may be breathing the air around these subway areas. 

Tough ‘Respiratory’ Times

Canadian scientists have done several tests on the amount of PM2.5 exposure in subways. They found out that the air pollution in cars and buses is quite different from pollution in subways. Although train activity pollution is not very severe, the accumulation of such particles for long periods in confined spaces may be fatal.

Transport records show about 39% of New Yorkers commute by subway to work; it proves that a large New York working-class population could be at risk. A study from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine shows that airborne particles’ concentration in some stations was twice as much as that outside the subway. 

One of the authors of the study said, “Our findings add to evidence that subways expose millions of commuters and transit employees to air pollutants at levels known to pose serious health risks over time,”

The concentration of PM2.5 particles in subways of countries like Barcelona was alarmingly much higher than other commuting pathways. In one Barcelona subway tunnel, PM2.5 particle levels range as high as 43 µg/m3 to 49 µg/m3. This tyranny of numbers could be the reason why Spain’s COVID-19 death rates are on a high.

The Air Pollution Battle Continues

In late January, Joe Biden announced that the US is back in the Paris Agreement, one of his presidential regime’s first big moves. The USA, the second-highest greenhouse gas emitter worldwide, is seeking ways to regulate air contamination. Former President Donald Trump had previously disregarded employing the Paris Agreement.

Dr. Sanjayan, the Conservation International CEO, said that Biden made a big step in the right direction. Biden wants to place the US ahead of the battle against air pollution and will be one of the front fighters among the several countries that are part of the France-based agreement.