Particulate Matter Concentrations in San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Train Stations

Lawrence Newsome, Sophia Macias, Natali Romero, Ja’lenn Polar, Carlos Madrigal, Felipe Lopez, Richard Sanchez, Megan Torio, Victor Rios, and Tony Marks-Block

As part of a general effort to assess air quality in different regions of the San Francisco Bay Area, we collected Particulate Matter (PM) data within passenger train cars along multiple commuter train lines simultaneously during the summer and fall of 2012. We visited numerous Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system stations, including those along the Fremont, Pittsburg and SF/Daly City lines. In conducting this study we used a Dustrak 8530 aerosol sensor equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver to measure PM size 2.5 �m concentrations every second. Of all the BART stations we visited, average PM concentration levels at the Embarcadero station in San Francisco were the highest during multiple visits, with a value of 104.95 �g/m3. We also noted that high levels of PM 2.5 were released when the cloth seats on the trains were struck, which resulted in significant, temporary increases of hazardous PM levels of up to 3000 �g/m3! Embarcadero station�s high PM concentration correlates to past research in other underground train stations throughout the world, where PM produced through the abrasive interaction of train wheels and tracks or brake pads becomes trapped. Compared to levels measured at outdoor stations (average of 8.52�g/m3) and other underground stations, levels detected at the Embarcadero station are particularly alarming. We believe this is due to the fact that this station is located at one end of a long, underground and underwater transbay tunnel that connects the East San Francisco Bay area to San Francisco to the west. To reduce PM exposure risk to BART employees and passengers, we suggest increasing and/or installing filtration and ventilation systems, which should substantially reduce PM concentrations at Embarcadero station.

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