Yesterday, the NYPD began its testing of perfluorocarbons in the subway system to study how “airborne toxins would flow through the city after a terrorist attack or an accidental spill of hazardous chemicals.” Formally known as the Subway-Surface Air Flow Exchange (S-SAFE), the $3.4 billion study by the Brookhaven National Lab and the NYPD was announced in April, but the data collection is taking place over three days this month.
Untapped Cities reader Sam Dolgin-Gardner came across some (update: they’re fake!) informational pamphlets yesterday morning, which have a rather disconcerting comic book look with the words “NYPD Subway Blowout.” It’s probably intended to have convey a lighter side to the experiment, but it almost comes off as parody. [Update: The pamphlets are indeed fake, the test is not.]
According to the pamphlet, “Perfluorocarbons are colorless, odorless, and powerful man-made greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.”
We still do not understand the health effects of Perfluorocarbon gas exposure, though exposure to Perfluorocarbons are linked to the early onset of menopause. Studies in animals have found these gases significantly alter liver and thyroid function, increase the risk of tumors, and cause failure in reproductive organs.
Nonetheless, Brookhaven National Lab says that the gases present no health or environmental hazard–we’re assuming at the levels they’re testing. The Atlantic Cities reported yesterday on tweets from residents that included fart jokes, subway jokes, and those who were just suspicious.
In the end, it’s all for our national security of course. Police Commission Raymond Kelly says, “This field study with Brookhaven’s outstanding expertise will help prepare and safeguard the city’s population in the event of an actual attack.”