What Passengers Are Breathing On Metra Train Cars

radioguy6

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Je3zn9xMiiU

(CBS) – Dirty vents, diesel fumes — what are Metra riders breathing in when they commute?

CBS 2′s Dave Savini launched an investigation to find out what passengers are being exposed to.

With help from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), and Microtrace Laboratory, two types of testing were conducted and problems for commuters were found, health and science experts say.

Thick smoke and exhaust from commuter trains fill Union Station and seep into passenger cars.

The 2 Investigators found train ventilation systems covered in filth. Vent after vent, train after train, walls and ceilings dirtied by the air blowing into the cabins.

With IIT, CBS 2 conducted field-testing using special monitors to detect levels of dangerously small or ultrafine particles that can penetrate deep in the lungs and cause health problems.

“Four-hundred-thousand per cubic centimeter, that’s huge,” says IIT’s Brent Stephens. “That’s more than you’d find in the middle of a highway.”

Stephens and his students found higher exposure levels on outbound trains being pulled by the engine versus inbound trains being pushed by the engine in the rear, because diesel exhaust particles flow through passenger cars.

“These levels are very alarming,” says IIT’s Akram Ali. “They are very high.”

Ultrafine particles were about 17 times higher when the engine was in front. The fine particles, called PM2.5, were about 100 times higher.

That’s a concern, says Dr. Robert Cohen, professor of medicine at Northwestern University.

“It’s astounding,” he says. “These particles that are really tiny can cause increased heart attacks and strokes.”

The 2 Investigators also took samples from the filthy vents. Seeing what was on the vent concerned passenger Dave Dunwoody, who worries about the long-term effects.

CBS 2 had the samples lab-tested by Chris Palenik at Microtrace and found more ultrafine particles.

“They were composed largely of metal particles, iron or steel metal particles,” Palenik says.

Iron particles can end up in your lungs.

“These exposures are not healthy,” Cohen says. “They are not good, and I think it’s something that should be addressed.”

Michael Gillis, a Metra spokesman, says the dirty vents have not gone unnoticed.

“They clearly should be cleaning the vents and we have addressed that with our crews,” he says.

Metra follows EPA standards and has switched to cleaner fuel and upgraded the filters, he says. However, he admits there are no EPA standards to regulate the ultrafine particles — despite the potential health effects.

“We have no standards on these particular compounds,” said Gillis. When asked if there should be standards, Gillis replied: “The EPA is looking into that.”

Says IIT’s Stephens: “We know that diesel exhaust is a carcinogen.”

The 2 Investigators also found that exposure risk tends to be higher when you stand in the vestibule or sit in the first few cars behind the engine on outbound trains.

Dr. Cohen says simply keeping the vents clean could help protect passengers and their health.



Here is the full response from the U.S. EPA Region 5:

“Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is funding and conducting ongoing research into the potential health effects of exposure to microscopic, ultrafine particles and nanoparticles. More research is needed before the Agency can establish national ambient air quality standards for such particles.

CBS2’s test methodology and results are not directly comparable to EPA’s ambient air monitoring program. EPA monitors outdoor air on a continuous 24-hour basis to determine whether the national ambient air quality standard for PM2.5 is met on annual basis. OSHA has set an indoor air quality standard for PM2.5 and that standard may provide a better basis for comparison.

EPA is making progress toward reducing harmful air pollution from train engines. New EPA engine standards effective in 2012 reduce particle pollution, as well as the emissions of hydrocarbons and gaseous pollutants. Beginning in 2015, new train engines will be subject to even stricter requirements. As rail systems nation-wide replace their engines over the years, they are bringing in cleaner equipment that will improve both indoor and outdoor air quality.

EPA along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and state and local agencies, participates in Metra’s task force to improve air quality in and around passenger trains. EPA is also working with the nation’s major railroads to implement voluntary efforts to reduce idling emissions beyond the mandated reductions. “
2 Investigators: What Passengers Are Breathing On Metra Train Cars « CBS Chicago
 

TonzKnock-G

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Yeah i'm sure someone is going to do something about that.....
 

ChicagoSRT8

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omg. they must really have nothing to report....ok somebody change the vents.
problem solved. People will still take the train no matter what.
I don't take it...so WGAFK.
 

radioguy6

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shouldn't shock anyone but its interesting. The fumes at Union can get pretty bad at times.
 

Primalzer

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Sucking on an exhaust pipe is bad for your health?! No shit!

But seriously, is this really news? I hate to be "that guy" that bitches about sensationalism in the media, but seriously, this is a prime example of the station looking for views and clicks. "If you ride the Metra you WILL die!"
 

OffshoreDrilling

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hate to break it to you, but the HVAC equipment at your job is just as, if not more, dirty than this
 

DEEZUZ

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Lol [MENTION=5236]Blood on Blood[/MENTION]
 

BrianG

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Is anyone surprised by these results? Really? I'm more worried about what's on the handles I'm grabbing in a public transportation vehicle than what I'm breathing in.
 

DanJoy

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I really thought this was going to be about breathing farts.
 

Bru

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shouldn't shock anyone but its interesting. The fumes at Union can get pretty bad at times.
100%. There's often a visible layer of fog from the diesel exhaust fumes in union station. It stays with the train too when the doors close. I've sat in train cars filled with diesel exhaust fog even after we leave the station.
 

Dasfinc

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100%. There's often a visible layer of fog from the diesel exhaust fumes in union station. It stays with the train too when the doors close. I've sat in train cars filled with diesel exhaust fog even after we leave the station.
This.

Union station is in a horrid state, and the fumes are INTENSE, especially in the summer months. As an Asthmatic, I can rarely ride past the half centerline of the train as it gives me breathing issues.

The UP West trains, and other lines that come out of Oglivie are noticeably better maintained (and the station is obviously vastly newer), and are run under contract with UP if I recall correctly (so different staff).
 

chry*bmb

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I used to ride UP west stopping at LaFox for awhile. Loooooong ass ride. Always would go at least 3 cars back due to smell and sound! However, you can't beat the money saved, but sometimes you just want to get home :( Nasty gross people and THEIR germs.
 

03GTGreen

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Oglivie is also above ground and ventilates much better, the UP owns it but metra maintains it, they have no other collaboration with the exception of running trains to Global 1

If its such a problem than all the baby boomers who started in the 70s should already be dead, but theyre not and some are still railroading so case closed
 

Dasfinc

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Oglivie is also above ground and ventilates much better, the UP owns it but metra maintains it, they have no other collaboration with the exception of running trains to Global 1

If its such a problem than all the baby boomers who started in the 70s should already be dead, but theyre not and some are still railroading so case closed
Incorrect,

UP Operates the trains running on those lines.

Metra board member: UP has

From the article:

Under prodding from board members that UP should not be able to make such a decision — particularly about bitter cold weather — without informing Metra, Connell agreed to discuss setting up a protocol for when Metra should be brought into the loop. UP runs trains under contract with Metra.

Its documented in other places too, just the quickest reference I could find to it.
 

Blood on Blood

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Based on my experience:

1. Some train cars are dated with broken seats, clouded windows, heating and A/C issues. Also, some cars have broken springs / flat spots on wheels which can make for a bumpy ride.
2. The cars are dirty, some seats have dried nose snots, food and God knows what on them. Walls are always dirty. You see the same dirtiness for months.
3. Some cars with bathrooms wreak of the blue water solution, shit or vomit. Also, some of the bathroom doors have broken locks.
4. Reliability of service can be hit or miss.
 

03GTGreen

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Incorrect,

UP Operates the trains running on those lines.

Metra board member: UP has

From the article:

Under prodding from board members that UP should not be able to make such a decision — particularly about bitter cold weather — without informing Metra, Connell agreed to discuss setting up a protocol for when Metra should be brought into the loop. UP runs trains under contract with Metra.

Its documented in other places too, just the quickest reference I could find to it.
Interesting as I thought only the line to Kenosha was this way, or maybe I was backwards... the more you know
 

Dasfinc

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Interesting as I thought only the line to Kenosha was this way, or maybe I was backwards... the more you know
BNSF specifically gives fewer fucks.

A while back there was a Horrid storm, UP wouldn't pull any trains out, 2 hour eta delay...

Walked to Union to catch a BNSF train, got on the last express and I asked the conductor if we were going to be delayed due to the rain like UP.

His response:
"Hell no, we are riding this bitch out of here, hell or high water"
 

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