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Study indicates little dust risk for subway workers

January 14, 2010

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Subway workers who spend their shift underground do not face an elevated risk of dust-related diseases, according to results of a pilot study from the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York.

Researchers measured 39 subway workers' responses to three metals found in steel dust -- iron, chromium and manganese -- and found no strong evidence of a biological response that might indicate a higher risk for dust-related diseases, according to a press release. The workers' exposure to steel dust, produced as train wheels roll through tunnels, was well below the levels set in OSHA standards, the press release said.

Researchers noted the study was limited because of its small sample, which included no women. It also did not assess other parameters such as lung function or analyze the impact of steel dust on the general public.

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