Subway airflow study to test potential impact of chemical or biological attack

Local News
nyc subway platform in queens

Subway riders wait for a train at the 74th Street station in Queens on April 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

NEW YORK CITY — Airflow tests will be conducted within the subway system this month as part of a study on the city’s emergency preparedness and the potential impacts of a chemical or biological terrorist attack, according to the MTA and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Federal and local officials plan to release non-toxic material at 120 locations, inside underground subway stations and at street level, and collect air samples to glean insights about the airflow relationship, officials said.

The material used to test airflow is not harmful to people and does not pose a health or safety risk, according to the MTA and Homeland Security.

The tests, conducted in partnership with MIT researchers as well as several city agencies, will take place on five different days between Oct. 18 and Oct. 29, according to the MTA.

“During the course of testing, customers using the system may see staff performing tests and sampling operations,” the MTA said in an advisory on Sunday.

The transit authority did not specify which subway stations would be included in the study, however, customers may see signage indicating a specific location is involved in the testing and sampling.

The study is part of the federal Urban Threat Dispersion program. The MTA and Homeland Security conducted similar airflow tests on the subway system in 2016.

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