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The London Underground, which nearly 2 million people use each day, is polluted with small particles of matter small enough to enter the human bloodstream, according to a new study.
These small particles are from heavy metals, including iron oxide, which can be highly damaging to human health. The PM2.5 particles are less than 2,500 nanometres in size and can cause asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurological problems, Hassan Aftab Sheikh, PhD researcher for the study, wrote for The Conversation.
Sheikh and her colleagues conducted research at 10 underground stations across seven lines in and around London. They found that those who use the London Underground may be inhaling more airborne particles than previously recorded.
Because the particles found are smaller than those identified in previous research, they present a serious health concern. They found between 60 and 70 percent of the particles were so small they could pass from the lungs into the bloodstream.
Sheikh explains that metal plastics are generated in underground rail systems from the brakes, wheels, and rails of the trains. Because underground platforms are tunnels are so poorly ventilated, the areas are exposed to high concentrations of the particles.
Over time, the particles settle but are lifted into the air again once the train moves through the tunnels.
“We found that the air quality on some platforms is up to 40% worse than in ticket halls as a result,” Sheikh wrote.
Although more research will certainly need to be conducted to truly understand the impact of the particles, we know that it is not good for human health.
“Detailing the size, structure, and chemical composition of particulate matter will better enable health experts and toxicologists to limit any potential health impacts associated with traveling on the underground,” Sheikh wrote.
Air Pollution is an invisible killer and has been linked to so many diseases, including fatty liver disease, depression, and other mental health issues, and a study even found that nearly 6 million babies born prematurely in 2019 were likely linked to air pollution. Eating meat has been linked to a rise in air pollution, and factory farms are one of the biggest to blame for our dirty air.
According to the WHO, an estimated 4.2 million people every year are killed by outdoor air Pollution, and 99 percent of the global population breathes air that exceeds WHO guideline limits, with low and middle-income areas disproportionately affected. Check out these eco-artists that are using their art to call attention to the massive problem of air Pollution and sign the petition to demand federal clean-up of disproportionately affected polluted areas in the United States.
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