Tube dust - COMEAP health advice (3)

MQT on 2017-08-10
Session date: 
August 10, 2017
Question By: 
Caroline Russell
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Professor Stephen Holgate of the British Lung Foundation and former Chair of the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP), as reported in the Sunday Times on 9 July 2017 said "The particles in underground railways are rich in iron and other metals such as copper, chromium, manganese and zinc. Metal particles increase our risk of asthma, lung and cardiovascular disease and possible dementia".  In light of this statement, and your answer to my question 2016/4580 in which you said "TfL will continue discussing the issues of health impacts of tube dust in the London Underground", will you ask COMEAP to review the dangers of tube dust and issue any appropriate precautionary advice?


Answer for Tube dust - COMEAP health advice (3)

Answer for Tube dust - COMEAP health advice (3)

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Previous independent scientific research, funded by Transport for London in 2004, found that the composition of dust particles on the Tube was different from that of particles above ground, and concluded that the dust did not contain components at levels which are likely to pose a risk to the health of passengers or staff.

More than a decade has passed since then, so TfL announced on 23 June it has asked the Department of Health's independent expert Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) to review evidence relevant to understanding the possible health effects of exposure to dust in London Underground infrastructure. The findings of COMEAP's review will help prioritise action to ensure that London's Tube system is as clean and healthy as possible. COMEAP will issue a statement when they have had the opportunity to fully consider the evidence.

This is part of a new wide-ranging review I have instigated to reduce air pollution levels across planning, housing, construction, transport and river services.

In addition to this evidence review, TfL has launched a new air quality action plan on the Underground to deliver improvements straight away, and ensure staff and passengers breathe the cleanest air possible.