This morning, the NYPD began the first day of the Subway-Surface Air Flow Exchange program, an urban airflow study conducted with the Brookhaven National Laboratory, and funded by the Department of Homeland Security Transit Security Grant, which will generate valuable information on how to safeguard the New York City subway system against airborne contaminants. Air sampling is being conducted in parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and in Manhattan, and researchers will disperse low concentrations of perfluorocarbons at several subway and street-level locations in Manhattan for 30 minutes during the morning of each study day.
*Correction: We have been informed by the MTA that the flyer below was not an official MTA notification and was distributed by an unknown party (we originally wrote erroneously that it was an official MTA communication). The current post reflects information that has been provided to the public by the MTA and Aaron Donovan, Deputy Director for External Communications at the MTA.
The NYPD will conduct the experiments for three days this July to help them plan for industrial accidents and terrorist attacks. Their tests will conclude just what the best emergency response to one of these incidents would be. According to the MTA and Brookhaven National Laboratory’s website, the greenhouse gas used, perfluorocarbon, is a harmless tracer gas that is easily detectable with sampling devices throughout the subway system and on the street.
Aaron Donovan, Deputy Director for External Communications at the MTA, added: “These gases are safe for our customers and employees, and the entire test will be performed with no impact on them and no interruption to service. The NYPD does an excellent job of keeping more than 5 million daily subway customers safe and secure, and this test will bolster its ability to protect them and the city at large.”
Data on the human health effects of perfluorocarbon are sparse, and so far it is deemed mostly harmless, but it is worth noting that excessive exposure to perfluorocarbons may cause effects on the brain and heart.