March 12, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is assuring riders that the heightened dust levels experienced at the Bedford Avenue L train station on Monday morning were “non-hazardous” and “well within health standards.”
At a Brooklyn Community Board 1 meeting last night, the city agency said that it is currently having its dust mitigation plans re-reviewed by three separate entities.
Commuters arriving at the Bedford Avenue station on Monday morning found the platform covered in a noticeable layer of dust and saw all of the station workers and police officers present wearing dust masks, leaving some riders questioning the safety of the station’s air.
Representatives from the transit authority agreed that the state of the station was unacceptable, but insisted that the levels of dust were constantly monitored and never came close to exceeding acceptable health standards.
“I’m not going to say that the environment in itself was pleasant, but it was not hazardous,” said Matt Best of MTA Capital Construction. “The folks that were wearing the masks, just out of caution chose to put masks on.”
The representatives partially attributed the level of dust on the platform to dust that is typically airborne being able to settle on the ground due to train service having been suspended all weekend long.
According to Best, the contractor’s dust mitigation plan is currently under review by the State Department of Health, The State Department of Environmental Protection, and an independent expert in public health hired by the MTA to advise on how to best understand the risks of the ongoing construction.
The MTA representatives received pushback from board members who felt that the review and approval of the plans should be complete before any further work takes place. Presently, the L train is scheduled to be shut down every weekend and weeknight until March 18 to allow for prep work before the major tunnel reconstruction work begins at the end of April.
Other members of the board demanded a guarantee from the MTA that the dust being kicked up by construction work is in fact safe to breathe and will not cause health problems down the road, similar to the toxic air surrounding ground zero after 9/11 that was initially deemed safe. The MTA representatives did not directly respond to these demands.
The representatives said, however, that they would consider a suggestion to provide dust masks at station so that riders who are sensitive to dust will be able to have a more comfortable commute.