‘Real concern’ for London Underground workers exposed to high pollution levels

By Angus Oliver
November 10 2019, 22.25

London Underground workers are exposed to pollution ten times worse than recommended World Health Organisation guidelines and could be at risk of heart and lung disease according to a new survey.

Due to the age and depth of the tube system, an accumulation of dust and pollutant PM2.5 has accumulated to dangerous levels, according to a British Safety Council survey.

Charles Pitt, head of policy and influencing at the British Safety Council said: “The King’s College evidence suggests about 9,000 people a year are dying prematurely because of air pollution and spending time on the London Underground could be a contributing factor.

“What’s a real concern to us is the workers who are down there, who are there all day every day.

“If you are breathing in dirty air there is a risk of heart disease, lung disease and a whole range of other conditions.

“The mounting evidence is that exposure to this dirty air is causing premature deaths in London.”

The recent study conducted by King’s College London and University College also revealed the underground air is up to 18 times worse than the air above ground.

In the light of these findings, the British Safety Council is working together with King’s College London in order to assist those exposed to the high levels of pollution.

Mr Pitt said: “We are working together on an app called Canairy which allows workers to monitor the air pollution where they are.

“If you log in to that app you can get a reading of the air you are breathing so you can know whether where you are is safe and whether you are breathing clean air.”

But Mr Pitt admitted it is difficult for individuals to control the quality of air they are breathing.

The British Safety Council is therefore calling on the government to take action.

He said: “We want to see clear targets in the environment bill, we want to see the World Health Organisation targets on particulate matter set so that governments have an obligation to make sure our air is clear.”

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