Passengers with dust sensitivity should wear masks while riding subway, Turkish professor says

Passengers who are allergic to dust should wear masks while riding the subway in Istanbul, a Turkish professor said after his dusty journey on the subway led him to analyze the air quality of the stations and subway wagons.

Mikdat Kadıoğlu — a professor at Istanbul Technical University's Faculty of Aeronautics and Astronautics in the Meteorological Engineering Department — realized that riding the Istanbul subway triggered his coughing and sneezing and started to analyze the air quality in the stations and the wagons.

Upon measuring air quality at the subway station, Kadıoğlu found that the levels were three times over the limit recommended by the World Health Organization.

The WHO recommends that the PM 2.5 average not surpass 25 micrograms per cubic meters, while the PM 10 average should not surpass 50 micrograms per cubic meters.

In the Üsküdar subway station, the PM 2.5 levels hit 87 micrograms, while the PM 10 levels hit 124 micrograms. Inside the subway car, the PM 2.5 levels hit 49 micrograms, well beyond the limit set by WHO.

Kadıoğlu noted that there is pollution in all subway stations throughout the world and experts should take more action on how to ensure better air quality in popular means of public transit.

Regarding the results, Turkish Thoracic Society President professor Hasan Yıldırım said the air quality in subway stations is mostly affected by the health-damaging particles created by friction.

"To prevent this, we need good ventilation and to decrease the number of pollution sources," Yıldırım said, adding that the PM 2.5 particle pollution has the ability to affect human health as it travels to the lungs and ends up in the bloodstream.

People with upper respiratory tract allergies are especially at risk of developing lung disease, Istanbul Technical University professor Hüseyin Toros said. He suggested that passengers should not spend a lot of time in the stations while adding that security staff and others who work in the subway stations should wear masks.

"We need to drop the levels to below the 20-30s in Istanbul soon," Toros said.

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