New York City to conduct airflow study in summer

The New York City Police Department, along with the Brookhaven Lab, will conduct a study this summer of how airflow in the streets and subways could move airborne contaminants.

The Subway-Surface Air Flow Exchange study seeks to determine how a possible terrorist attack using airborne contaminants would disperse in a dense and complex urban environment. The data collected during the three day event will be used to optimize emergency responses following the release of hazardous materials.

"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," Raymond W. Kelly, New York City police commissioner, said. "This field study with Brookhaven's outstanding expertise will help prepare and safeguard the city's population in the event of an actual attack."

S-SAFE was commissioned by the NYPD and funded by a $3.4 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

Approximately 200 sampling devices will be used over the course of the study. These devices will be used to take samples of the low concentrations of perfluorocarbons, which is a harmless gas.

"The NYPD, in partnership with the (Metropolitan Transportation Authority), is responsible for keeping more than 5 million daily subway customers safe and secure," MTA Acting Chairman Fernando Ferrer said. "This study will bolster the NYPD's understanding of contaminant dispersion within the subway system as well as between the subway system and the street, thereby improving its ability to better protect both our customers and the city population at large. We are glad they are joining Brookhaven National Laboratory for such an important effort, which will benefit the New York City subway without affecting its regular operations."