The London Subway Is Bad for Commuters' Lungs

A new study from the University of Surrey produced counterintuitive results about the relative pollution levels of commuters around London.

1 minute read

February 20, 2017, 7:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


London Heathrow Airport

Jason Cartwright / Flickr

"If you find yourself wheezing as you wander down a fume-filled London street, just remember that things could be worse," writes Feargus O'Sullivan. "You could be on the city’s subway system."

"According to a new study from the University of Surrey, London’s Tube riders experience worse air than those who travel by car," adds O'Sullivan. "In the worst cases, particulate levels in the subway system can be as much as eight times higher than those experienced by drivers."

The culprit of the pollution issue in the London Subway isn't the motor or exhaust of the trains—it's from "mechanical abrasion between rails, wheels and brakes."

O'Sullivan provides a lot more detail and context for the study, including listing two big lessons to takeaway.

Thursday, February 16, 2017 in CityLab

View of Mount Hood at golden hour with Happy Valley, Oregon homes in foreground.

Clackamas County Votes to Allow ADUs, Residential RVs

County officials hope the zoning changes will help boost the housing supply in the region.

June 18, 2024 - Mountain Times

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Aerial view of intersection in New York City with yellow cabs and zebra crosswalks.

Planners’ Complicity in Excessive Traffic Deaths

Professor Wes Marshall’s provocatively-titled new book, "Killed by a Traffic Engineer," has stimulated fierce debates. Are his criticisms justified? Let’s examine the degree that traffic engineers contribute to avoidable traffic deaths.

June 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

Aerial view of dense single-family homes in neighborhood still under construction

A Big Picture of the US Housing Market

A new report highlights the factors driving up housing costs around the country.

15 minutes ago - Governing

Archer Aviation Midnight eVTOL aircraft on display at Dubai Airshow November 13th 2023, dark colors, bright background, indoors. Electric aircraft, electric helicopter.

FAA Approves Air Taxis

Two Bay Area companies are planning to develop autonomous commuter flight services between San Francisco and local cities.

June 24 - Smart Cities Dive

Two wood-frame houses under construction.

Commentary: When Neighborhood Change is Inevitable

Changes in the size and type of housing can accommodate different living arrangements and offer opportunities for multigenerational living and aging in place.

June 24 - Strong Towns

City Planner I

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner II

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner Supervisor

Department of Housing and Community Development

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.