Particulate Matter 2.5 and Black Carbon concentrations in underground San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit stations

Unique Cheon, Naudika Williams, Mikey Quintana, Jesse Thompson, Reginald Quartey, Amri Gray, Qi Ma, Chunyan Lin, Daisy Yee, and Nishant Biswas

A previous Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 study within Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train stations found that concentrations of PM 2.5 at San Francisco’s (SF) Embarcadero station were significantly high relative to within the rail system. To follow up on that study, PM 2.5 data was collected within other underground BART stations and the streets surrounding them using the DustTrak Aerosol monitor that measures concentrations every second. In addition, black carbon (BC) data was collected using a microAeth aerosol monitor that also measures concentrations every minute. During each day that measurements were made along three different train routes originating from West Oakland BART station: 1) toward the San Francisco Civic Center station: en route to the Lake Merritt station in Oakland; and toward the Downtown Berkeley station. All of these stations are located underground, and at each one the DustTrak instrument was taken from the train to the ticket level, and on each route data was collected outside of the stations. Black carbon (BC) concentrations were recorded only on the San Francisco route. The highest PM 2.5 concentrations were recorded at SF underground stations, particularly at Embarcadero where concentrations exceeded 100 μg/m3 at train level. These values were much greater than those obtained outside the station, which ranged between 10-20 μg/m3. Other stations along the route to Civic Center had values ranging from 30-64 μg/m3, higher than stations along the route to the Downtown Berkeley station (17-42 μg/m3 ) and the Lake Merritt station (10- 38 μg/m3). PM concentrations outside of stations were lower, ranging from 14-33 μg/m3 and 8-27 μg/m3 outside 12th Street Oakland City Center and Lake Merritt stations respectively. Additionally, PM concentration was directly related to depth at all stations. For example, one day at Embarcadero the highest concentrations from train to middle to top level were 119, 84, and 59 μg/m3 respectively. We believe the differences in PM concentration between stations are attributed to the number of train lines at each station, the length of adjacent train tunnel, and access to open air at each station. Discussion of PM sources and BC data awaits further elemental analysis of particles collected on instruments’ filters. Twenty-four hour sampling of underground BART station air quality is recommended to further understand long-term patterns and potential exposure risks to employees and commuters.

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