TTC Union says it will conduct own air quality assessment

News Sep 04, 2017 by Rahul Gupta City Centre Mirror

The president of the TTC’s largest labour union says the local intends to complete its own air quality assessment of the subway system, regardless of what the transit commission’s own study finds.

Kevin Morton of Local 113 welcomed the study, to be undertaken by Toronto Public Health (TPH) over one year measuring the amount of potentially harmful Particulate Matter (PM) with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres – large enough to seep into lungs and increase the risk of heart and respiratory disease – generated by the grinding of rail tracks. But he said the union will challenge any finding indicating subway air quality is safe.

“Let’s be clear, there’s no safe level of PMs,” said Morton ahead of the TTC’s monthly board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 5. “We’re glad they’re finally focusing on the issue, but they need to treat the subway system as an office space and not a factory when it comes to air quality.”

The $500,000 study was endorsed by the TTC board earlier this year after a report by Health Canada found Toronto’s the level of PM2.5, along with Montreal and Vancouver’s rapid transit systems, equivalent to that of Beijing, one of the world’s most polluted cities.

However the TTC quickly questioned Health Canada's findings, pointing out air quality assessments for the study were undertaken in 2010 and 2011, and no explicit conclusions were made in regards to health impacts.

A board report detailing the upcoming study also took media reports on the Health Canada findings to task, saying they harmed the TTC’s reputation and caused “unnecessary alarm” for TTC employees.

While the TTC has conducted air quality studies of the subway system in the past, the report concedes the last one was back in 1995 and PM2.5, which is potentially cancer-causing over long periods of exposure, was never measured.

After the results of the Health Canada study were publicized, four subway employees refused to report for work on health grounds.

Morton said one employee was fired by the TTC before being reinstated. He said TTC employees were also forbidden from wearing surgical masks during regular subway operating hours, although workers can wear them in the tunnels during maintenance periods. Metroland Media Toronto was unable to substantiate the union’s allegations.

“The level of particulate is the same no matter the time of day,” said Morton.

An accurate assessment of air quality is needed not just for transit riders, but for TTC station employees particularly now that station collectors are being re-assigned with the adoption of the Presto fare system and the phasing out of tickets and tokens, said Morton. 

He said the TTC has to prove beyond all doubt the subway system is safe before it exposes its workers to “prolonged exposure” of PM2.5

“We want these areas shown to be safe before they expect (TTC employees) to stand on a platform for 8 to 10 hours a day,” he said.

The TTC’s air quality study is expected to begin this year with sampling of PM2.5 and other contaminants taking place during regular subway operating hours.

TTC Union says it will conduct own air quality assessment

News Sep 04, 2017 by Rahul Gupta City Centre Mirror

The president of the TTC’s largest labour union says the local intends to complete its own air quality assessment of the subway system, regardless of what the transit commission’s own study finds.

Kevin Morton of Local 113 welcomed the study, to be undertaken by Toronto Public Health (TPH) over one year measuring the amount of potentially harmful Particulate Matter (PM) with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres – large enough to seep into lungs and increase the risk of heart and respiratory disease – generated by the grinding of rail tracks. But he said the union will challenge any finding indicating subway air quality is safe.

“Let’s be clear, there’s no safe level of PMs,” said Morton ahead of the TTC’s monthly board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 5. “We’re glad they’re finally focusing on the issue, but they need to treat the subway system as an office space and not a factory when it comes to air quality.”

The $500,000 study was endorsed by the TTC board earlier this year after a report by Health Canada found Toronto’s the level of PM2.5, along with Montreal and Vancouver’s rapid transit systems, equivalent to that of Beijing, one of the world’s most polluted cities.

However the TTC quickly questioned Health Canada's findings, pointing out air quality assessments for the study were undertaken in 2010 and 2011, and no explicit conclusions were made in regards to health impacts.

A board report detailing the upcoming study also took media reports on the Health Canada findings to task, saying they harmed the TTC’s reputation and caused “unnecessary alarm” for TTC employees.

While the TTC has conducted air quality studies of the subway system in the past, the report concedes the last one was back in 1995 and PM2.5, which is potentially cancer-causing over long periods of exposure, was never measured.

After the results of the Health Canada study were publicized, four subway employees refused to report for work on health grounds.

Morton said one employee was fired by the TTC before being reinstated. He said TTC employees were also forbidden from wearing surgical masks during regular subway operating hours, although workers can wear them in the tunnels during maintenance periods. Metroland Media Toronto was unable to substantiate the union’s allegations.

“The level of particulate is the same no matter the time of day,” said Morton.

An accurate assessment of air quality is needed not just for transit riders, but for TTC station employees particularly now that station collectors are being re-assigned with the adoption of the Presto fare system and the phasing out of tickets and tokens, said Morton. 

He said the TTC has to prove beyond all doubt the subway system is safe before it exposes its workers to “prolonged exposure” of PM2.5

“We want these areas shown to be safe before they expect (TTC employees) to stand on a platform for 8 to 10 hours a day,” he said.

The TTC’s air quality study is expected to begin this year with sampling of PM2.5 and other contaminants taking place during regular subway operating hours.

TTC Union says it will conduct own air quality assessment

News Sep 04, 2017 by Rahul Gupta City Centre Mirror

The president of the TTC’s largest labour union says the local intends to complete its own air quality assessment of the subway system, regardless of what the transit commission’s own study finds.

Kevin Morton of Local 113 welcomed the study, to be undertaken by Toronto Public Health (TPH) over one year measuring the amount of potentially harmful Particulate Matter (PM) with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres – large enough to seep into lungs and increase the risk of heart and respiratory disease – generated by the grinding of rail tracks. But he said the union will challenge any finding indicating subway air quality is safe.

“Let’s be clear, there’s no safe level of PMs,” said Morton ahead of the TTC’s monthly board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 5. “We’re glad they’re finally focusing on the issue, but they need to treat the subway system as an office space and not a factory when it comes to air quality.”

The $500,000 study was endorsed by the TTC board earlier this year after a report by Health Canada found Toronto’s the level of PM2.5, along with Montreal and Vancouver’s rapid transit systems, equivalent to that of Beijing, one of the world’s most polluted cities.

However the TTC quickly questioned Health Canada's findings, pointing out air quality assessments for the study were undertaken in 2010 and 2011, and no explicit conclusions were made in regards to health impacts.

A board report detailing the upcoming study also took media reports on the Health Canada findings to task, saying they harmed the TTC’s reputation and caused “unnecessary alarm” for TTC employees.

While the TTC has conducted air quality studies of the subway system in the past, the report concedes the last one was back in 1995 and PM2.5, which is potentially cancer-causing over long periods of exposure, was never measured.

After the results of the Health Canada study were publicized, four subway employees refused to report for work on health grounds.

Morton said one employee was fired by the TTC before being reinstated. He said TTC employees were also forbidden from wearing surgical masks during regular subway operating hours, although workers can wear them in the tunnels during maintenance periods. Metroland Media Toronto was unable to substantiate the union’s allegations.

“The level of particulate is the same no matter the time of day,” said Morton.

An accurate assessment of air quality is needed not just for transit riders, but for TTC station employees particularly now that station collectors are being re-assigned with the adoption of the Presto fare system and the phasing out of tickets and tokens, said Morton. 

He said the TTC has to prove beyond all doubt the subway system is safe before it exposes its workers to “prolonged exposure” of PM2.5

“We want these areas shown to be safe before they expect (TTC employees) to stand on a platform for 8 to 10 hours a day,” he said.

The TTC’s air quality study is expected to begin this year with sampling of PM2.5 and other contaminants taking place during regular subway operating hours.