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Dirty air on Paris Metro poses health risk to staff

The Local · 10 Sep 2015, 14:46

Published: 10 Sep 2015 14:46 GMT+02:00

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If you’ve ever had to hold your breath on the Paris Metro, then spare a thought for the people who have to spend much of their day working on the network.

A recent report on the air in the Paris Metro system said it was four times worse than the notoriously smoggy Péripherique ring road and perhaps unsurprisingly the latest study claims it poses a health risk to staff.

Metro employees and those working on underground train stations are risking their health while at work, the French health watchdog ANSES concluded.

“There exists respiratory and cardiovascular health risks associated with chronic exposure to fine particles in the air in underground rail enclosures,” the report said.

The source of the dirty air is fine particles of metal than come from the rolling stock and their toxicity is “poorly documented”, the report writes.

Fumes from diesel engines add to the pollution.

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As a result of the dangers the health agency has called for “preventative measures” to reduce the exposure of employees to the fine particles.

Those workers most at risk are Metro and train drivers, those who work on safety and maintenance or assistance to passengers, and those working in shops in the underground stations.

Earlier this year pollution experts for French channel BFM TV said They found that the concentration of particulates with a diameter of less than 10 microns -- so-called PM10 -- was at an average of 75 microgrammes per cubic metre (mcg/m3) inside the Metro. The figure soared above 200 during peak hours.
The safe limit for PM10 is set at 80 microgrammes per cubic metre (mcg/m3), with Paris's alert level fixed at 50 mcg/m3.
Out at the ringroad peripherique, meanwhile, the air was considerably cleaner despite the traffic - recorded to be 20mcg/m3.
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