Tube platform

Poor air quality on the London Underground

06 November 2019

Poor air quality on the London Underground has been a concern to Londoners for some time.  The level of dust on the Underground is one of the main concerns, due to the potential health risks it could pose to both passengers and workers.

 

The London Assembly Environment Committee started an investigation on tube dust in May this year.

 

Chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee, Caroline Russell AM said:

 

“While we heard TfL is meeting current standards to protect workers’ respiratory health on the underground, we are challenging how confident TfL is with these standards, especially as they are lower than the World Health Organisation’s guidelines.

“TfL relies on people to clean and minimise tube dust on the London Underground. The RMT Trade Union told the Environment Committee that the cleaners’ exposure to dust and pollution is not monitored, as cleaners are not directly contracted by TfL.  This raises concerns as TfL needs to be aware of the impact of poor air quality on all staff working on the Underground.

“The Environment Committee will publish its findings on tube dust once the ongoing investigation is finished but, in the meantime, we’ll be keeping a close eye on TfL’s response to recent investigation findings.”

Notes to editors

  1. Respirable dusts are currently assessed against Health and Safety Executive Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) of 4 mg/m3, averaged over an 8-hour reference period.  TfL has suggested that its monitoring of tube dust does not contain components at levels which are likely to pose a risk to the health of TfL employees as per the WELs -  http://content.tfl.gov.uk/air-quality-on-underground.pdf 
  2. Caroline Russell AM, Chair of the Environment Committee is available for interview. See contact details below. 
  3. The Environment Committee looks at what additional measures could be taken to help improve the quality of life for Londoners and investigates topics ranging from airport expansion and burst water mains, to noise from the Night Tube and the environmental impacts of plastic water bottles.
  4. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and balance on the Mayor.


​​​​​For media enquiries, please contact Aoife Nolan on 020 7983 4067.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.

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