PM2.5 on the London Underground Metro Network

Despite the London Underground (LU) handling on average 2.8 million passenger journeys per day, the characteristics and potential health effects of the elevated concentrations of metal-rich PM2.5 found in this subway system are not well understood. Spatial monitoring campaigns were carried out to characterise the health-relevant chemical and physical properties of PM2.5 across the LU network, including diurnal and day-to-day variability and spatial distribution (above ground, depth below ground and subway line). Population-weighted station PM2.5 rankings were produced to understand the relative importance of concentrations at different stations and lines. PM2.5 concentrations in the LU, where mean journey times are 47 minutes, are many times higher than in other London transport environments. Failure to include this environment in epidemiological studies of the relationship between PM2.5 and health in London is therefore likely to lead to a large exposure misclassification error. Given the significant contribution of underground PM2.5 to daily exposure, and the differences in composition compared to urban PM2.5, there is a clear need for well-designed studies to better understand the health effects of underground exposure. 

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