U.S. to conduct bioterror gas test on New York subway system

The New York City Police Department and the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory announced on Monday that they will conduct a joint test to prevent attacks on the city's subway system.

The test will involve exposing standing subway passengers, also known as straphangers, with low levels of perfluorocarbons, a harmless type of gas, during three non-consecutive days in July. The test will employ approximately 200 sampling devices throughout all five boroughs. The test will examine the specifics of airflow in New York City's mass transit system, Inquisitr.com reports.

"(The initiative is the) largest urban airflow study ever to better understand the risks posed by airborne contaminants, including chemical, biological and radiological weapons as they are dispersed in the atmosphere and in the city's subway system," Brookhaven said, according to Inquisitr.com.

The tracer gases used in the test are both harmless and odorless. The gases were used in similar activities since the 1980s.

"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... This field study with Brookhaven's outstanding expertise will help prepare and safeguard the city's population in the event of an actual attack," Ray Kelly, the NYPD's commissioner, said, according to Inquisitr.com.

The city will notify the public a day ahead of the three subway gas testing days.

Several decades ago, the city used a benign anthrax-like germ to determine how quickly an anthrax attack would permeate through the city's subway, Inquisitr.com reports.