Science Pops Open, Ep. 14: Something in the Air Down There

Research fellows of the AXA Research Fund tell the story of their work to reduce an array of risks

Science Pops Open, Ep. 14: Something in the Air Down There

If you have something in common with 100 million people around the world, it might be that you took the subway to work today. And, just like aboveground in the city, the air you breathed during your trip was likely polluted, in this case by tiny flakes of metal that can penetrate our lungs. Dr. Fulvio Amato's innovative research is filling in the gaps in our knowledge of this health risk for millions of communters the world over.

Cet article existe également en français : https://www.mysciencework.com/news/12048/science-pops-open-ep-14-comme-un-air-de-metro

 

If you have something in common with 100 million people around the world, it might be that you took the subway to work today. Just like aboveground in the city, the air you breathed during your trip was likely polluted, in this case by tiny flakes of metal produced by the mechanical wear of trains running on their rails and the friction of their brakes on the wheels. These metal particles tens times smaller than the diameter of a human hair penetrate our lungs and can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular disease. In some subways, their levels even exceed limits for outdoor air pollution recommended by the World Health Organization, yet research on the subject is sparse and incomplete. Dr. Fulvio Amato is conducting an innovative study to collect an extensive range of data, including levels of different types of particles, their shape and chemical composition, and effects on the human body.

 

Barcelona is the focus of his project, where almost one-third of the working population commutes by subway each day. Through continuous monitoring of air pollution on platforms and in tunnels, he has been able to identify the contribution of different sources and recommend strategies to reduce it. Tunnel ventilation and station design are the two main factors affecting air quality in the Barcelona subway system, Dr. Amato has found. In stations where panels with doors separate the platform from the rails, he found that passengers were exposed to only half the amount of particle pollutants, compared to traditional, open designs. By providing such concrete advice to managers of urban transport systems, Dr. Amato’s work will help reduce the serious health risks of breathing polluted air for the many millions of passengers using subway systems around the world.

More Episodes of Science Pops Open:

Ep. 1 – Your body can defend itself against cancer. It just needs a little help!, with Margot Cucchetti 

Ep. 2 – Improving outcomes of crisis and conflict, thanks to an ethnographic outlook, with Ruben Andersson

Ep. 3 – After an Earthquake, the Show Must Go On, with Anna Reggio

Ep. 4 – Disrupting the Sleeping Sickness Symphony, with Fabien Guegan

Ep. 5 – Optimizing Welfare…and Equality, with Sean Slack

Ep. 6 – Awaiting Balance in the Adolescent Brain, with Kiki Zanolie

Ep. 7 – Come Drought or High Water, with Luciano Raso

Ep. 8 – Taking European Tornadoes by Storm, with Bogdan Antonescu

Ep. 9 – Learning to Tackle Climate Change Together, with Sandrine Sidze

Ep. 10 – Nourish the Children of Urban Slums, with Sophie Goudet

Ep. 11 – In Money Matters, We're Only Human, with Jeroen Nieboer

Ep. 12 – A Depressed Sense of Smell?, with Kalliopi Apazoglou

Ep. 13 – Climate Shifts Carried on a River of Air, with Nikolaos Bakas

Ep. 15 – Foretelling a Complex Future for our Complex Ecosystems, with Phillip Staniczenko

Ep. 16 – From Childhood Illness to Innovative Antibiotics, with Agata Starosta

Ep. 17 – Plants & Poisons: Assessing Contamination in Our Environment, with Natalia Ospina-Alvarez

Ep. 18 – Voice of a storm surge, with Emiliano Renzi