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It would seem that superbugs are not just a problem in hospitals but they are also to be found in a very unlikely setting: the London Underground. Seats, hand rails and walls of trains on the network were tested by researchers from the London Metropolitan University who discovered 121 types of bacteria and mould. More alarmingly, the scientists also identified nine of the world’s most dangerous superbugs and labelled the underground a “hotbed of bacteria”.

Travel Sickness

The presence of these bacteria, moulds and superbugs could bring new meaning to the term travel sickness. Among the strains of bacteria identified were Staphylococcus Aureus, E-coli and Klebsiella Pneumoniae. The list includes bacteria deriving from rats, mice and human faeces. These can lead to water and skin infections but they are at the low end of the risk scale. It is the nine strains of drug-resistant bacteria that is the greatest cause for concern with Klebsiella Pneumoniae at the top of the list. This superbug is immune to antibiotics and can cause a myriad of illnesses including diarrhoea, septicemia, pneumonia, meningitis and urinary tract infections.

Dirty Tubes

The research found that the Victoria Line was the “dirtiest” tube with 22 varieties of bacteria present with the Metropolitan Line declared the “cleanest” with a mere 11 strains detected. Jill Collis, the Director of Health, Safety and the Environment at Transport for London, stated that “trains and stations are professionally cleaned” and that there was no cause for concern but it makes you think all the same….

The Body Shop and AirLabs Clear the Air

An innovative approach to air pollution has been launched by cosmetics giants The Body Shop in conjunction with air-cleaning systems specialists AirLabs. The two companies have joined forces in an attempt to deliver cleaner air to people waiting at bus stops. Air-cleaning technology will be installed at three selected bus stops and built into Body Shop advertisements. The system absorbs harmful nitrogen dioxide and particulates into the brand advertising leaving the air around the bus stop cleaner and safer. Improving the air quality around just three bus stops may not have a profound effect on air pollution as a whole but every little helps and the companies hope that others will follow their lead in the battle for cleaner air.

Hedging Our Bets Against Pollution

Researchers are heaping praise upon the humble garden hedge after discovering it is a natural filter for air pollution. While trees may reign supreme in the countryside when it comes to absorbing air pollution it is hedges that rule the urban environment. Due to their size and tightly-knit leaves, hedges are better for filtering and trapping pollutants, toxins and emissions coming from passing traffic. So the next time you are being reminded to give the hedge a trim just remind your spouse that you are actually doing your bit for the environment while relaxing in your deckchair!