The London Underground is polluted with ultrafine metallic particles small enough to end up in the human bloodstream, according to University of Cambridge researchers.
The London Underground is polluted with ultrafine metallic particles small enough to end up in the human bloodstream, according to University of Cambridge researchers. These particles are so small that they are likely being underestimated in surveys of pollution in the world’s oldest metro system.
The researchers carried out a new type of pollution analysis, using magnetism to study dust samples from Underground ticket halls, platforms and operator cabins.
The team found that the samples contained high levels of a type of iron oxide called maghemite. Since it takes time for iron to oxidise into maghemite, the results suggest that pollution particles are suspended for long periods, due to poor ventilation throughout the Underground, particularly on station platforms.
Some of the particles are as small as five nanometres in diameter: small enough to be inhaled and end up in the bloodstream, but too small to be captured by typical methods of pollution monitoring. However, it is not clear whether these particles pose a health risk.
Read more at University of Cambridge
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