Environmentalists are demanding urgent investigations into air pollution on the Glasgow subway after a snapshot survey by the Sunday Herald’s New Era magazine discovered that passengers were breathing in tens of millions of tiny metallic particles that might damage their health.
We found levels of pollution by microscopic particles on the subway - known in the city as the Clockwork Orange - up to ten times higher than on the streets outside and up to eight times above the World Health Organisation’s recommended daily limit.
Experts estimate that passengers on the subway for 45 minutes could each inhale at least 60 million particles. Anyone spending the same amount of time at one of Scotland’s busy railway stations could breath in 10 million particles, or 2.5 million on a train journey between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Because the particles in the electric-powered subway are likely to be mostly iron oxide from the grinding of wheels against rails, they may not be as dangerous as the sooty particles emitted by trains or cars driven by diesel engines. But experts and campaigners all agreed that the risks required serious examination.
Dr Richard Dixon, the director of Friends of the Earth Scotland described the concentrations of particle pollution on the subway as “alarming”. He called on Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), which runs the subway, to take the results very seriously.
“This problem urgently needs further investigation," he said. "Confirmation of these results would require decisive action to reduce pollution.”