Glasgow subway carries ‘pollution threat’

POLLUTION levels in Glasgow’s subway system are ten times higher than on the city’s streets, and eight times over the World Health Organisation’s approved levels, a new survey suggests.

A passenger uses Glasgow's subway, nicknamed the Clockwork Orange. Picture: Donald Macleod
A passenger uses Glasgow's subway, nicknamed the Clockwork Orange. Picture: Donald Macleod

• Pollution levels prompt concerns from environmentalists over safety of Glasgow’s subway system

• Survey suggests pollution levels are ten times higher than those found in Glasgow city centre

Environmental campaigners have expressed concern over results that showed the concentration of tens of millions of tiny metallic particles to be well over recommended safety limits.

Experts estimated that passengers on a 45 minute journey would breathe in 60 million particles of pollution, compared to 10 million particles found in Glasgow’s Central station, and 2.5 million on a rail journey between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The particles measured in Glasgow’s underground rail network were mostly made up of iron oxide released from train tracks being ground by wheels.

Though results indicate that the particles are not as harmful as those emitted from trains or diesel-powered cars, environmentalists expressed alarm at the findings.

Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said the discovery merited closer inspection.

“This problem urgently needs further investigation. Confirmation of these results would require decisive action to reduce pollution.”

Alison Johnston MSP, envirnomental spokeswoman for the Scottish Greens, said: “They should ensure that Glaswegians don’t find they escape polluted air on the streets only to suffer even more severe problems underground.”

Results were taken from a 40-minute subway journey using a hi-tech portable monitor that deteceted between 40-80 million particles per cubic metres of air

The findings, published in The Sunday Herald today, were criticised by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), who said the research was light on details such as the manner in which the survey was conducted.

“There are a huge array of factors during even the shortest journey which can impact on polution monitors,” a spokeswoman said, “and it is not clear from this snapshot if that has been taken into consideration.”

She added: “SPT takes both passenger and staff health very seriously and uses respected industry expertise to guide us on best practice in the subway.”