Cyclist reveals filthy face masks after commuting in London

face mask pollution

Air pollution: a mask before travelling (left), mask from cycling (centre) and mask from travelling on the train (right)

London Evening Standard -- A cyclist is calling on the government to improve air quality after his face mask filters were left covered in filth after a week of commuting.

John Lehan, an engineer, purchased the mask after suffering from a cough and irritable throat as he cycled to his office in Old Street, east London.

He wore the mask for three days as he made his way from Enfield to his workplace, cycling for about 60 miles in total, in April.

But when Mr Lehan looked at filters inside the masks, designed to trap harmful particulates, he was shocked to find them completely blackened by pollution.

The results left Mr Lehan so concerned for his health he decided to stop cycling to work and commute by train instead.

He continued to wear the mask for the journey, which included underground travel for the final 10 minutes, and was horrified to find the mask filters were even filthier after a week of travelling.

Mr Lehan, who is also a triathlete, has since completely changed his commute to include no underground travel because of health concerns.

The 30-year-old said: “When I was cycling to work after a week I would be coughing and have a sore throat at night. I was beyond belief that is what I was doing to myself.

“It is not just cycling specific problem, it is something that affects everybody – people travelling all over London and on the pavement in Oxford Street.

“You can’t actually see the air pollution and know how bad it is.

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“I think the biggest problem is the buses and taxis. What I think London needs to do is to take really radical steps.”

Mr Lehan, alongside other air pollution campaigners, is calling on the Mayor of London to increase greener buses on the streets and build taxis with hybrid engines.

Matthew Pencharz , senior environment and energy adviser to the Mayor, said: “The Mayor is leading the most ambitious and comprehensive package of measures in the world to improve London’s air quality, an urgent challenge which affects the health and well-being of all Londoners.

“At the heart of his plans is the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London from 2020. Already, progress is being made. Unlike many cities, we have met EU rules on particulate matter. The number of Londoners living in areas above nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits has halved since 2008.”

Source: London Evening Standard



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