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J Occup Environ Hyg. 2006 Jan;3(1):16-25.

Dust in the underground railway tunnels of an Italian town.

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Institute of Occupational Medicine, University of Rome (Tor Vergata), Italy.


This article assesses hazards associated with exposure to dust in tunnels and platforms of the A and B lines of Rome's underground railway and provides an informed opinion on the risks to workers and the travelling public of exposure to tunnel dust. The study focused on the analysis and measurement of dust granulometric classes PM10, respirable fraction, respirable combustible dust, and the organic, metallic, siliceous, and fibrous components. Comparing the measurement values from the tunnels and platforms with those found at the entrances to the underground railway stations, it emerges that dust concentration in the tunnels and platforms is three times higher, with a maximum PM10 value of 479 microg/m3. Averaged over 24 hours, in relation to the above ground levels, drivers and station staff are exposed to an additional value of 11 microg/m3 and 10 microg/m3, respectively. If commuters were to remain in the trains or on the station platforms, the 24-hour average exposure would increase by 3 microg/m3. Iron and silica were the major components found in the dust. The use of silica sand in the emergency braking system of the carriages is capable of causing a dispersion of quartz in the air in percentages varying from 5% to 14%. Methods are suggested in this article for the reduction of dust dispersion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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