Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tube Heat Reaches Dangerous Levels; Extreme Humidity Increases Risk to Commuters

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tube Heat Reaches Dangerous Levels; Extreme Humidity Increases Risk to Commuters

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBERT MCNEIL

TUBE passengers were being exposed to dangerous levels of heat and humidity today.

As Britain stands on the brink of record-breaking temperatures expected to top the 37.1C (98.8F) record set in 1990, commuters on Underground trains and stations were suffering "inhuman" conditions.

Using state-of-the art air-quality testing devices to measure heat, apparent temperatures - combined heat and humidity - were found to reach 52C (126F).

The worst conditions yesterday were in a waiting room on the platform at Hammersmith station, with temperatures up to 38.4C (101F). With a relative humidity of 55 per cent the apparent temperature was 52C 126F). The legal maximum for transporting animals is 35C (95F).

On one crowded Circle line train at 5pm yesterday the temperature was 33.9C with a relative humidity of 65 per cent, creating an apparent temperature of 48C (119F).

The danger when heat and humidity combine is that it reduces the amount of evaporation of sweat, preventing the body from cooling itself effectively.

London Underground today announced that it has nine tons of bottled water in reserve to cool down passengers. It took the unprecedented step of ordering more than 15,000 half-litre bottles in case commuter trains break down and become Sweltering: Tube passengers at Bond Street, stranded. LU has been forced to take the measure because Tube trains do not have air-conditioning. Conditions underground could swiftly become serious on a packed train.

An LU spokeswoman said: "The forecast is for very high temperatures today and we want to be ready. A stranded train could have 1,000 people on board."

The spokeswoman emphasised the water would only be handed out in an emergency.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - America's version of the Met Office - classifies any temperature above 41C (105F) as dangerous, and any temperature above 54C (130F) as extremely dangerous dangerous and likely to cause heat stroke, which can kill. …

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