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The subway is good for the health and pockets of São Paulo City inhabitants

Expanding the subway network of cities like São Paulo may prove to be cheap. All that has to be done is to include the health benefits that result from this type of transportation in the calculations. A group coordinated by researchers Paulo Saldiva, from the University of São Paulo, and Simone Miraglia, from the Federal University of São Paulo, analyzed the impact of the subway on air quality in the city and the health area savings that would result from cutting pollution levels. To do so they compared the rates of air pollutants during two subway workers’ strikes, one in 2003 and the other in 2006, the levels having been measured on the working days that preceded and followed the stoppages. The air pollution almost doubled when the trains stopped and deaths caused by cardio-respiratory problems increased by 10% and 14%. There were eight additional deaths attributed to pollution in the strike in 2003 and six in 2006. These deaths were the equivalent of a daily loss of productivity of US$ 51 million and US$ 36 million, respectively (Journal of Environmental Management, June 2012). “Despite the high construction and operating costs, the benefits of expanding the subway exceed the costs when environmental and social values are taken into account,” write the authors.