York Railway Station to track air pollution amid public health concerns

One of Yorkshire’s busiest transport hubs is the latest site earmarked by the Stations Air Quality Monitoring Network.

Platform 8 at York Railway Station could soon house specialist equipment used to monitor air pollution levels as concerns continue to grow about air quality in busy stations. 

An application has been submitted by engineering firm AECOM to the City of York Council for permission to install the kit, which will help better understand what passengers and staff at the facility are breathing in and being exposed to. The work forms part of the Stations Air Quality Monitoring Network.

The overall project aims to install various measurement tools at 105 stations across the UK. These are used to gauge levels of a number of pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, nitrogen dioxides, and particulate matter. York will help create a picture of how effective this initiative is, beginning with a three month trial. Pre-pandemic, the station served around 10m passengers each year, with around 1m people changing services. 

‘Poor air quality is the greatest environmental risk to public health in the UK. It is known to exacerbate the impact of pre-existing health conditions, such as respiratory and cardio-vascular illnesses. The railway causes air pollution, particularly through its use of diesel, but also abrasion products and it can be a major contributor to certain air pollution hotspots,’ an AECOM spokesperson said in a statement. 

‘There are areas of particular concern such as enclosed stations, where rail staff and the public may be exposed to high concentrations of air pollutants. Currently, there is no established air quality monitoring network specifically designed for the rail network. Previous studies have shown that air quality inside enclosed train stations is of concern, especially when idling diesel trains are present. However, there is limited monitoring data to confirm this. As a result, a project has been developed to establish a monitoring network for the train stations in the UK,’ they continued. 

The Stations Air Quality Monitoring Network began in 2021, with initial sites including Cambridge, Ely, Ipswich, Norwich and Stansted Airport. The scheme is implemented by the Rail Safety and Standards Board and funded by the Department for Transport.

Image credit: Wikipedia



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