LRT-1 flagged for high carbon dioxide levels  

Ghio Ong - The Philippine Star
LRT-1 flagged for high carbon dioxide levels  
Ken Abante holds an air quality monitor showing the elevated carbon dioxide level in a crowded LRT-1 train yesterday.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — A safe public transport advocate yesterday called on the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) to address the high levels of carbon dioxide in its trains, which he claimed could increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Ken Abante, a coordinator of Move as One Coalition, posted two photos on Twitter showing readings from an air quality monitor while in a packed LRT-1 train.

The photos showed the monitor indicating carbon dioxide levels between 2,900 and 3,1000 parts per million (ppm).

The levels are beyond the 1,000 ppm recommended by the Department of Labor and Employment in its Department Order 224, Abante said.

LRT-1 passengers were “at high risk of COVID-19 infection” with such carbon dioxide levels, he said. He explained that high carbon dioxide concentration in an enclosed space could help virus particles remain suspended in the air.

Abante asked the rail line to “open the train windows, monitor, and improve ventilation ASAP (as soon as possible).”

In response, LRT-1 operator Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC) said it is taking steps to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in its trains.

In a statement, LRMC communications head Jacquieline Gorospe said the government has allowed full capacity in businesses and public transport.

The LRMC has installed UV disinfection and hospital-grade high-efficiency particulate air filter systems in the air conditioning units of all its train sets “to remove pathogens and keep indoor air clean,” Gorospe said.

She added that fresh air is regularly exchanged when train doors open and close at every LRT-1 station.

The LRMC is also “making sure to use calibrated (carbon dioxide) monitors to factor in the ambient carbon dioxide level vis-a-vis inside the train and look at average reading (versus instantaneous reading),” she added.

The LRMC also said that train windows could not be opened because it could damage the trains’ air conditioners.

The rail line would also require passengers to have their  body temperature checked and wear face masks that cover their nose and chin. It would also prohibit commuters with high temperatures or other COVID-19 symptoms from riding trains.

Abante’s group and the LRMC are scheduled to meet next week.


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