TFL underground air pollution data
Request ID: FOI-2525-1920
Date published: 20 March 2020
As a part of my project, I would like to create a product/service for commuters to minimize their explosion to air pollution, primarily underground. I have read a few articles/news about the concern for the underground pollution level being extremely higher than the busy London road. It'd be beneficial if I can get the date for TFL underground air pollution level. For instance, I would like to know what kind of particles exist underground and a measure of air pollution.
TfL Ref: 2525-1920
Thank you for your email received by us on 19 November 2019 asking for information about air quality on the London Underground network.
Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) and our information access policy. I can confirm we do hold the information you require. You requested the following:
I have read a few articles/news about the concern for the underground pollution level being extremely higher than the busy London road. It'd be beneficial if I can get the date for TFL underground air pollution level. For instance, I would like to know what kind of particles exist underground and a measure of air pollution.
An article in The Guardian, which you may be referring to, can be viewed here:
Please see the link below which will provide you with the report we commissioned the Government’s Committee On the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) to do on our behalf, from which the Guardian newspaper misreports the air pollutants underground being a factor of 30 higher than above ground. This will provide you with the context and access to the statement and working papers as part of the statement:
It will also show you the research recommendations COMEAP make. Note this is research still to be undertaken, but that used to support the statement is included in the link above.
In regard to ambient pollution across London, the following website has data from the London wide monitoring network:
Air pollution data can also be found on the DEFRA Website: https://laqm.defra.gov.uk/
Transport for London routinely monitors and undertake dust surveys across in the London Underground network to evaluate staff and customer exposures to respirable and inhalable dusts. The composition of London Underground dust has been a topic for discussion for many years and over that time the main characteristics have not changed. The particulates below ground in London Underground infrastructure are predominantly iron oxide particles from track, wheel and brake wear.
We are committed to maintaining the cleanest air possible for our staff and customers when using the Tube. London Underground continues to operate well within the Health and Safety Executive exposure limit in spite of the increased demand, higher level of service and increased level of upgrade and maintenance works being delivered in recent years. In addition TfL has informally adopted a much stricter target to meet the recommendations of the Institute of Occupational Medicine (May 2011) to limit inhalable dust exposures to less than 5mg /m3 and Respirable Dusts to 1mg/m3. Moreover, with staff shifts running for 7-8 hours, it is assumed that any exposures by non-employees, primarily customers, will be significantly lower than that for employees.
The main pollutants we measure on the London Underground are respirable dusts (PM 4.0) and specific metals. The source of these are track, wheel and brake wear.
Particulate measurements are taken to assess occupational exposures and as such most measurements are taken in the respirable dust fraction (pm 4.3). The exposure groups monitored are station staff and train operators. The samples are a mix of personal and static samples. The collection methodology is through the use of a sample pump and the dust is collected on a filter paper. A set of monitoring data can be found in the attached Dust Survey report.
In accordance with our obligations under Data Protection legislation some personal information has been withheld, as required by regulation 13 of the EIR. This is because disclosure of this personal data would be a breach of the legislation, specifically the first principle of Article 5 of the General Data Protection Regulation which requires all processing of personal data to be fair and lawful. It would not be fair to disclose this personal information when the individuals have no expectation it would be disclosed and we have not satisfied one of the conditions which would make the processing ‘fair’.
If this is not the information you are looking for, or if you are unable to access it for some reason, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal as well as information on copyright and what to do if you would like to re-use any of the information we have disclosed.
FOI Case Officer
Transport For London
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