Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read


NYPD Releasing Odorless, Colorless Gas Into NYC Subways

The New York Police Department and Brookhaven National Lab are releasing "low concentrations of harmless gases" into the city's subway system this summer in order to study how airborne contaminants spread.

NYPD Releasing Odorless, Colorless Gas Into NYC Subways

Brookhaven National Laboratory and the New York Police Department are intentionally releasing perfluorocarbons—benign, odorless gases—into the New York subway system this summer as part of a study into optimizing emergency response to a terrorist attack or accidental toxic chemical leak.

"The NYPD works for the best but plans for the worst when it comes to potentially catastrophic attacks such as ones employing radiological contaminants or weaponized anthrax," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement. "This field study with Brookhaven's outstanding expertise will help prepare and safeguard the city's population in the event of an actual attack." Last week, Kelly defended NYPD stop-and-frisk analytics, security camera scanning, social media monitoring, and other controversial policies at The Atlantic's New York Ideas Festival.

The perfluorocarbon gases will be monitored by hundreds of devices scattered across New York's subway system. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security sprayed benign bacteria into Boston's subway as part of a biological warfare test.

[Smoke: Alexander Marushin via Shutterstock]