NEW YORK CITY — The NYPD will conduct its third and final subway airflow study Thursday morning.
Police will work with researchers from the Brookhaven National Laboratory to release non-toxic perfluorocarbon tracer gas beginning at 8 a.m. at several subway stations in Manhattan. The NYPD will use data from the experiment to better understand how poisonous gases released in a hypothetical terrorist attack would disperse.
"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," said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly in a statement. "This field study with Brookhaven's outstanding expertise will help prepare and safeguard the city's population in the event of an actual attack."
Some groups have warned that perflourocarbons are linked to infertility in women, menopause, birth defects, liver damage and thyroid damage.
But experts at Brookhaven have pointed out that the gas is used in healthcare to treat, among other things, lung injuries, and are already found in the atmosphere in larger quantities than will be released on Thursday.
"The amount of materials we're putting out gets diluted in the atmosphere. It's not measurable," Brookhaven engineer Paul Kalb told WNYC earlier this month. "We can’t go out enough decimal points to compute the amount that we've added to the atmosphere."
When completed, the study will have included 21 subway lines and several dozen stations, the NYPD said.
Another study was conducted in Manhattan in 2005 and in Boston and Washington D.C., though July's release will be the largest to date, police added.
The study is scheduled to end by 3 p.m.