A recent report about America’s dirtiest subway systems is shining a spotlight on NYC — and not in a good way. The study tested the bacteria on handrails at public transit systems in five major cities, and the rather unsurprising results show that the New York City subway is the most bacteria-laden in the United States. According to the report, the NYC underground houses an average of over two million nasty bacteria colony-forming units (CFUs) per square inch, which means that simply grabbing a hand rail in the subway could expose users to the same amount of bacteria as shaking hands with 10,000 people. New Yuck City, indeed.


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The new study was conducted by Travelmath, a travel logistics website, which sent a team to gather bacteria samples from the handrails on public transit systems in New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco. When compared to the other cities, New York unfortunately came out on top, with over 2,000,030 CFUs per square inch. Although thoroughly disgusting, this latest study shouldn’t be that shocking considering  previous research which unveiled that the New York subway contains DNA linked to anthrax and bubonic plague.

Related: Disturbing DNA from bubonic plague to anthrax to cheese found in NYC subway stations

The second prize for bacteria accumulation went to San Francisco, which came in with a dramatically lower 483 CFUs per square inch, while Chicago and Washington, D.C. came in third and fourth place, respectively. As far as first place in cleanliness, some New Yorkers may be a bit peeved to know that longtime NYC rival, Boston, has the cleanest subway of all, with just about 10 CFUs per square inch.

Of course, it should be noted that NYC is the busiest subway in the country, with an estimated 1.75 billion annual riders. Although scientists believe that most of the common bacteria found in subways are harmless, quite a few of them are linked to respiratory issues and skin infections.

+ Travelmath

Via Daily Mail

Images via Travelmath, ©Nouhailler and ©dilworthdesigns