Feds to study air in Boston subway system for safety

Study to help researchers understand how smoke, chemical spills travel throughout subway


BOSTON --

The MBTA and Homeland Security officials will be releasing a non-toxic odorless gas into Boston's subway system next week in an effort to come up with safety systems and precautions needed to protect passengers, T officials said.

Homeland Security workers will release the gas and particle tracers into the air and samples will be taken in more than 20 stations and in subway cars during the week of Aug. 20-27.

The results of the study will help researchers understand how smoke and chemical or fuel spills travel throughout the subway. It will also help MBTA officials develop emergency strategies, such as evacuation and ventilation plans.

A similar test was done in December, according to DHS officials, and everyday commuter activities should not be disrupted.

“The movement of airborne contaminants can be affected by differences in temperature and humidity, so a comprehensive study requires gathering data in both winter and summer months,” said program manager Teresa Lustig.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be studying the movement of airborne contaminants and airflow of the MBTA system, focusing on the behavior of airborne contaminants if they were to be released into the subway.

“The study also allows us to test the effectiveness of some of the proposed countermeasure and response strategies derived from analysis of the December tests,” Lustig said.

The DHS said the results will also help provide insight for future chemical and biological agent detection systems.

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