London tube travellers ‘more exposed to pollution than drivers’

Car drivers in London are causing the most pollution per commuter but are the least exposed to it. That’s according to new research, which revealed commuters who use the Underground […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

Car drivers in London are causing the most pollution per commuter but are the least exposed to it.

That’s according to new research, which revealed commuters who use the Underground are actually the most exposed to toxic air quality, followed by those on buses.

Researchers at the University of Surrey found underground trains with open windows leave passengers “far more exposed” to air pollution than those with closed windows.

They add passengers on the District line with closed windows are exposed to “far lower concentrations” of particulate matter (PM) than those travelling on trains with open windows on the same line.

PM levels are said to be higher on trains on the Victoria and Northern lines with open windows.

Around 9,400 Londoners are said to die every year due to poor air quality, costing the economy £3.7 billion.

The capital’s toxic air breached legal limits for the whole year just five days into 2017.

The study however did not find conclusive evidence to suggest that those from more deprived areas were more exposed to pollution that those from less deprived areas.

Dr Prashant Kumar, who led the study said: “We found that there is definitely an element of environmental injustice among those commuting in London, with those who create the most pollution having the least exposure to it.

“The relatively new airtight trains with closed windows showed a significant difference to the levels of particles people are exposed to over time, suggesting that operators should consider this aspect during any upgrade of Undergound trains, along with the ways to improve ventilation in underground tunnels.”

The study was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Last week the European Commission issued “final warnings” to five countries, including the UK, for failing to address air pollution.