Transcript: Climate Quickie, Which London tube has the best air quality?
TEDxLondon Climate Curious
We all know riding the tube hurts your ears, your feet and often your nose, but did you know that it may also be hurting your lungs?
In this week’s Climate Quickie we hear from Tanya Beri, the founder at CAIR London. Her research helps London underground users reduce their air pollution exposure through an app launching this summer.
Let’s learn with Tanya now which tube lines have the best air quality.
Hi, my name is Tanya Berry and I’m the founder of a company called CAIR London, which is a startup producing a mobile app, which helps London underground users reduce their air pollution exposure.
I’m producing a mobile app which focuses on getting London underground users to their destination in the safest way possible, as opposed to the quickest route possible.
So current London underground users tend to use TFL go to CityMapper, Google Maps, to get to their destination. Whether they’re going to the office, they wanna check that their route today is working well or. But instead of that, we aim at CAIR London to get them there in the lowest polluted route possible.
I came up with the idea of CAIR London during my master’s degree at Loughrey University. We had to pick a social kind of, um, innovation project, and I started to research air.
And I stumbled across a Financial Times article, which told us exactly how polluted the London Underground was. And as a born and raised London, I was really shocked to hear how high the statistics were. So when I did a foundation diploma, in Elephant and Castle II was commuting the well every day.
I kept getting a recurring case of illness, specifically tonsillitis and through various doctor’s appointments, we couldn’t quite narrow down exactly why I kept getting sick. And one of the things that came up was the change in my day-to-day routine and potentially the tube lines that I was using, cuz I wasn’t a frequent user of the Northern line, before that kind of year where I had to commute into South.
So whilst it’s not confirmed, it did definitely seem to have a detrimental impact on my health during that year. And I think that kind of sparked my interest in,helping people that have preexisting lung condit, asthmatics, et cetera, And that was bad for me with just tonsillitis.
I can’t imagine how much worse it must be for other people who have to experience much worse symptoms.
I would say London’s attitudes towards air pollution was a lot less relevant than it is now. So the kind of attitude to change your journey getting to the office in 30 minutes versus 42 minutes wasn’t appealing back then.
So I initially started my research about three years ago, so before the pandemic and. since winning the Young Innovators Award. And obviously the increased popular or popularity or interest in air pollution or at least wanting to better people’s air pollution exposure has kind of become more of a priority for people, uh, post pandemic.
That’s definitely when I’ve started to focus on it more and it’s really become less of an idea and more of an actual business.
Currently the least polluted train line is the Elizabeth line. If you’ve travelled on it, you’ll know that it’s better ventilated and it’s, you know, fancy and new and the platforms themselves are a little bit higher above ground than the deeper lines that we have, you know, that have been around for a hundred years or so.
Other routes or train lines that are low polluted route, include the Metropolitan Line, district line, Hamilton City line, and the circle.
I think they’re quite obvious, really for people that travel on them pretty frequently. But the Northern line, the Central line and the Victoria line, I would say are the biggest culprits. The Jubilee line is also up though.
We know that the detrimental. Of high exposure to air, well, air pollution, [00:08:00] specifically PM 2.5 particulate matter can contribute to various lung diseases, heart diseases. I think they’ve even done studies fairly recently, which, so kind of cognitive issues as well in later life.
In terms of the health implications of below ground pollution. it’s heading in the direction where we’re getting the research now, but it’s too soon to say what the long-term health implications are
When CAIR London is released, I would strongly suggest that people use that, but until then I would strongly suggest that people continue to wear a mask.
I know that people are less cautious of Covid 19 at the moment, but it can really reduce your exposure to particulate matter whilst traveling on the London Underground. So it’s always a good idea to still continue to wear a mask, especially if you’re travel. On the deep London underground lines that I said are, most polluted.
Whilst CAIR London is predominantly user focused, like I’m, I’m very much focusing on how London Underground users can reduce their air pollution exposure.
It does fit into the bigger picture of kind of climate innovation because we’re obviously heading in the direction now where we are trying to encourage more public transport. It’s essentially enabling people to continue to travel in a way that is beneficial to them.