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Deep cleaning to tackle superbugs on London Underground

29 June 2017

Parts of the London Underground will be deep-cleaned every night over the summer after dangerous superbugs were discovered on the network.

It comes after researchers at London Metropolitan University found 121 different types of bacteria and mould on public transport in the capital. Eight of the most threatening bacteria to human health were discovered on the tube, with the Victoria line deemed the dirtiest route.

Industrial vacuum cleaners and magnetic wands will be used to remove metal particles, dust, oil and grease from around 50 tube stations and five tunnels.

The expanded cleaning regime is one of many measures announced by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan as part of a new air quality action plan.

Tests will be carried out at more than a dozen stations to monitor how dust levels change at various times and locations. Information from an improved air quality monitoring programme will be published on the Transport for London (TfL) website.

Khan said: “Tube staff and the millions of passengers who use the underground regularly deserve to breathe the cleanest air possible. TfL’s new underground air quality programme will help ensure dust and particles are kept to an absolute minimum.

“But I want to leave no stone unturned and I’ve also asked for an updated scientific analysis of pollution on the tube so we can fully assess the air quality levels and take appropriate measures to ensure that the air is clean.”

The combination of friction from tube trains running along rails, air ventilation and skin particles from passengers all contribute to dust on the network. Advice will be sought from the Department of Health’s independent expert committee on the medical effects of air pollutants.

Mark Wild, managing director of the London Underground, said: “We have been monitoring dust levels on the tube for many years and, through a wide range of measures, have ensured that particle levels are well within Health and Safety Executive guidelines.

“But as scientific understanding of the effects of particles develops, we are ensuring that we’re both using the very latest research and that we’re doing everything possible to keep the air underground clean for our customers and staff.”

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