Cookies settings

We use cookies on our website.

Some of them are necessary for the functioning of the site, but you can decide about others.


Tunnel Trouble: The Shocking Truth About Air Quality in Your Daily Commute!

By StaticAir

Do you rely on the subway train network for your daily or even occasional commute? Beware; you might be inhaling 130% more pollutants compared to your fellow city dwellers! In the bustling underground network of New York City's subway system, a concerning discovery has emerged for commuters near river tunnels. A recent study from NYU Grossman School of Medicine exposes a serious issue: individuals waiting near these tunnels are inhaling significantly higher levels of harmful pollutants than their counterparts, posing a challenge to America's largest underground transit system.

Known as the 'river-tunnel effect,' this newfound phenomenon sheds light on the diverse air quality conditions within NYC subway stations. Conducted by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, the comprehensive investigation analyzed air quality in 54 NYC stations during the busy morning rush, revealing noteworthy differences. Stations adjacent to river tunnels exhibited a remarkable 80% to 130% increase in concentrations of potentially harmful particles, casting a shadow over the subway experience.

This groundbreaking study is the most extensive exploration to date on the impact of river tunnels on subway air quality, was published online on Dec. 30, 2022, in the esteemed journal Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment.

David Luglio, the lead author and a doctoral student at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, emphasizes the urgent need to prioritize cleaning efforts in subway stations closest to rivers. Luglio attributes the 'river-tunnel effect' to limited ventilation in tunnels beneath water, allowing harmful debris to accumulate and disperse into nearby stations as trains pass through.

Considering the substantial daily commuters of 5.5 million people on New York City's subways in 2019, the study highlights the imminent health risks associated with elevated pollutant levels. Previous research has established a link between such exposure and an increased risk of lung and heart diseases, heightening the overall mortality risk.

While the study was focused on New York City's subways, the scenario might not differ for other cities, including yours. The confined spaces of underground tunnels hinder proper ventilation, leading to the accumulation of particulate matter. This trapped debris, compounded by the lack of airflow, worsens as passing trains stir it up, dispersing pollutants into adjacent areas and heightening pollution levels near subway tunnels.

Want to know more how StaticAir can help solve this issue? Click here to download our brochure.