Culture-Independent Analysis of Aerosol Microbiology in a Metropolitan Subway System(32 page pdf, Charles E. Robertson, Laura K. Baumgartner, Jonathan K. Harris, Kristen L. Peterson, Mark J. Stevens, Daniel N. Frank, and Norman R. Pace, Appl. Environ. Microbiol., Mar. 29, 2013)
Also discussed here : How Gross Is the Air of the NYC Subway, Really?(Henry Grabar, the Atlantic – Cities, Apr 26, 2013)
Today we review some research into the quality of the air found in subways, not just the physical and chemical content, but also the microbiological properties in a rare glimpse in that direction. Results show that the air quality inside the tunnels closely resembles the outside air quality as a result of a highly efficient exchange of air by the movement of trains themselves called “train-pumping”. The differences that do exist are interesting: more aerosols made up of tiny metal particles generated by the metal wheels and tracks and skin flakes that are emitted by the people using the subways and generated by convection from their skins- but the density found is no worse than in similar gatherings of people in offices for example. Perhaps the most significant aspect of the study is to predefine the conditions of subway air before the possibility of a terror attack using microbiological substances. All of this is important. as more and more cities turn to Light Rail (LRT) to meet their transit needs in addition to those with Heavy Rail.
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