The SEPTA Strike Was Bad for Our Health

Air quality worsened significantly as more people used cars to get around during the shutdown

The weeklong SEPTA strike was not only bad for business, it was also bad for Philadelphia's health.

The city health department said Friday that air quailty was 300 percent worse, on average, than the week before the trains and buses stopped running.

In science speak, hourly maximum emission readings jumped from 5 micrograms per cubic meter to 20 micrograms per cubic meter.

To measure the impact, health officials analyzed air quality readings from five monitoring stations across the city.

An influx of vehicles on the roads was the main culprut for the bad air, health officials said. The vehicles spewed tons of extra carbon dioxide and other emissions into the skies. Long-term exposure to ther fine air particulates can cause asthma and other heart and lung problems.

All SEPTA services, except regional rail trains, went idle on November 1st after union workers walked off the job over a contract dispute. On an average weekday, the transit authority carries 975,000 riders on those lines. The strike ended the following Tuesday.

Health officials said the findings underscore the enviornmental benefits of using public transit.

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