Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researching Airborne Metals In Transit Workers' Bodies

Date:
May 2, 2005
Source:
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Summary:
Working in the subway several hours each day, subway workers and transit police breathe more subway air than the typical commuter. Subway air has been shown to contain more steel dust than outdoor or other indoor air in New York City. But do transit workers’ bodies harbor elevated levels of these metals? And does this translate into a health concern for the workers?

Steel dust exposure in the NYC subway system has been of concern to subway workers and transit police for decades. A study by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory researchers will examine the level of airborne metal in subway workers.
Credit: Photo credit: Mark Inglis

Working in the subway several hours each day, subway workers and transit police breathe more subway air than the typical commuter. Subway air has been shown to contain more steel dust than outdoor or other indoor air in New York City. But do transit workers’ bodies harbor elevated levels of these metals? And does this translate into a health concern for the workers?

Related Articles


In a new paper called Steel Dust in the New York City Subway System as a Source of Manganese, Chromium, and Iron Exposures for Transit Workers, Steven Chillrud, a research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and colleagues discuss an ongoing pilot study that takes a closer look at these questions. The paper will be published in the March issue of the Journal of Urban Health, a special issue focusing on subway health research.

The pilot study is expected to show whether 40 transit workers’ blood and urine contains elevated levels of the metals that have been shown to exist in air collected in subway stations. “This is the type of information you need before deciding whether it is worthwhile to investigate any potential health impacts,” Chillrud explains. “Airborne metals levels that have been studied in the past were much higher than those in subway air, but subway levels are higher than outdoor air. So it’s an interesting in-between area.”

As Chillrud and colleagues write in the new paper, “Steel dust exposure in the NYC subway system has been of concern to subway workers and transit police for decades. As one of the largest subway systems in the world, the NYC subway environment could provide important information relevant to evaluating the potential for health effects from exposures to airborne metals.” The authors are researchers from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia, the Mailman School of Public Health, and Harvard’s School of Public Health.

Emphasizing that no adverse health effects have been linked to the levels of steel dust present in the subways, Chillrud says no one should stop riding the subway based on his research “We do know that increases in surface traffic emissions have adverse health effects,” he says.

A study published last year, in which high school students who commuted by subway collected air samples during their commutes, suggested that steel dust generated in the New York City subway did significantly increase the total amount of iron, manganese, and chromium that the students breathed. Furthermore, the levels of these airborne metals in the subway air were more than 100 times higher than outdoor or other indoor air in New York, but still 1000 times lower than the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Permissible Exposure Limit guidelines for workers. The current study extends the previous research to 40 transit workers, who could be expected to have higher exposure levels than commuters. (For more information on the earlier study, see http://www.earthinstitute.columbia.edu/news/2004/story01-05-04.html)

Also in the March issue, Dr. Robyn Gershon of the Mailman School of Public Health publishes a paper called Health and Safety Hazards Associated with Subways: A Review, which provides a comprehensive look at health and safety hazards that might affect both riders and subway workers, and indicates that while subways in general, and the New York City subway system in particular, are relatively safe, subway systems are vulnerable to a range of health and safety hazards. These include the threat of terrorist attacks, transmission of infectious diseases, subway noise, and a special concern with respect to crime, despite the fact that crime rates generally have been dropping.

Chillrud is one of many Earth Institute scientists whose research focuses on New York City’s environmental problems. Though Earth Institute research extends around the globe, its New York City Initiative encourages and coordinates New York-focused research projects, on topics ranging from garbage to climate to Hudson River ecology. A catalog of New York research by Earth Institute scientists can be found on the Web at http://www.earthinstitute.columbia.edu/nyc/projects.html.

In the past five years, Steven Chillrud’s New York area research has included studying toxins in truck drivers who carted debris from the World Trade Center site, analyzing highway runoff, analyzing groundwaters and Hudson River sediments for studies of contaminant transport, and looking at relations between diesel emissions and asthma.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "Researching Airborne Metals In Transit Workers' Bodies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050428180644.htm>.
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. (2005, May 2). Researching Airborne Metals In Transit Workers' Bodies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050428180644.htm
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "Researching Airborne Metals In Transit Workers' Bodies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050428180644.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

AFP (Oct. 25, 2014) — An American nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas has been declared free of the virus and will leave the hospital. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins