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Environ Sci Technol. 2014 Dec 16;48(24):14738-45. doi: 10.1021/es504295h. Epub 2014 Nov 26.

Black carbon and particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations in New York City's subway stations.

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Department of Environmental Medicine, New York University , 57 Old Forge Road, Tuxedo, New York 10987, United States.


The New York City (NYC) subway is the main mode of transport for over 5 million passengers on an average weekday. Therefore, airborne pollutants in the subway stations could have a significant impact on commuters and subway workers. This study looked at black carbon (BC) and particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations in selected subway stations in Manhattan. BC and PM2.5 levels were measured in real time using a Micro-Aethalometer and a PDR-1500 DataRAM, respectively. Simultaneous samples were also collected on quartz filters for organic and elemental carbon (OC/EC) analysis and on Teflon filters for gravimetric and trace element analysis. In the underground subway stations, mean real time BC concentrations ranged from 5 to 23 μg/m(3), with 1 min average peaks >100 μg/m(3), while real time PM2.5 levels ranged from 35 to 200 μg/m(3). Mean EC levels ranged from 9 to 12.5 μg/m(3). At street level on the same days, the mean BC and PM2.5 concentrations were below 3 and 10 μg/m(3), respectively. This study shows that both BC soot and PM levels in NYC's subways are considerably higher than ambient urban street levels and that further monitoring and investigation of BC and PM subway exposures are warranted.

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