Air on Paris Metro system ‘ten times dirtier than outside’

The air quality on the Paris Metro is ten times worse than in the streets above, a report has revealed - and it's putting the health of the 26,000 workers on the city's underground transport system at risk.

Air on Paris Metro system 'ten times dirtier than outside'
Paris Metro. Paul Roberts Photography/Flickr
As people living in Paris will know, taking a deep breath on the Metro isn't something to be recommended.
But what about those who spend all day working on the underground system?
Workers on the Paris Metro are trying to draw attention to the health risks involved in working on the city's underground public transport system as a result of the poor air quality.
The concentration of fine particles, that are considered dangerous to health, in the tunnels of the Metro and RER is nearly ten times that of outside, according to a report in Le Monde newspaper. 
And a previous report on the air in the Paris Metro system said it was four times worse than the notoriously smoggy Péripherique ring road.
On Friday, around 60 members of the workers' CFDT union handed out pamphlets intended to catch the attention of the morning rush hour crowd at Gare du Nord with the words, “Breathing in the tunnels of the metro and RER seriously damages your health”. 
“They're worried because it's their everyday lives. It's not just a question of health at work but also a question public health,” said Fabian Tosolini from the transport federation. 

Dirty air on Paris Metro poses health risk to staff

Exposure to fine particles can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath, and can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease.
Nevertheless, according to their contracts staff can be exposed to fine particles at levels 100 times greater than the public. 
And unsurprisingly, it's the 26,000 staff members who work in the underground tunnels in the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France who are at greatest risk. 
“For the workers in the tunnels when they blow their nose, it's completely black, it's like they're working in the mines,” said Tolosini. 
Public transport operator, RATP says it is doing what it can, and has been improving ventilation and modernising its installations. 
“It's a scandal,” said Tosolini, adding that fine particles kill 4,800 people every year. 


Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

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