Health report confirms air contamination in Toronto subway

By Denise Paglinawan

TORONTO, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Air in Toronto’s subway system is polluted, the public health department said in a report issued on Monday calling on the transit system to mitigate it.

The report found that fine particle air pollution, or PM2.5, exposure levels in the transit system warrants mitigation “because reductions would have health benefits for passengers.”

PM2.5, or particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter, have been shown to be strongly associated with cardiovascular and respiratory issues, according to Health Canada.

Toronto's city council has asked the transit board to find long-term measures to improve air quality in the city’s subway system, according to the report.

The Toronto Transit Commission, in a statement, concurred with the department's recommendations for short- and longer-term measures.

"We remain fully committed to continuing our world-leading efforts in subway air quality improvement," TTC spokesman Stuart Green said.

The report said the system's air quality is in line with similar transit systems in other cities.

A member of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents more than 12,000 Toronto transit workers, has filed a private prosecution case against the commission.

The case alleges the TTC allowed the discharge of contaminants in the subway system in violation of Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act.

"The fact that the Toronto Public Health is recommending short, as well as mid- and long-term mitigation measures indicates there are obvious risks," transit union President Carlos Santos said in a statement on Monday.

(Reporting by Denise Paglinawan; editing by Anna Mehler Paperny and Dan Grebler)

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