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Study: Subway Air Is No Worse Than Crowded Street Air

But Lots Of Dead Human Skin Particles Are Floating Around, Study Says
People on a subway platform waiting for the D train - Nov. 4, 2012 (credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

People on a subway platform waiting for the D train – Nov. 4, 2012 (credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The air in the subway may be thick or stinky from time to time, but a microbiologist said Tuesday that it is not any worse in quality than the air out on packed city streets.

As 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported, Dr. Norman Pace of the University of Colorado-Boulder and his team found the fungus levels are higher in the subway than out on the street. He also found that 5 percent of the microbials he discovered were probably dead human skin as from people’s hands or feet.

The microbiologist said all in all, the subway air is no worse than the air on a crowded city street that you would breathe.

One woman riding a subway said Tuesday that she does not believe Pace’s findings for a second.

“No, I don’t,” she said. “It’s muggy down here. It’s nasty. It smells. And if they come down here and clean up, who wants to breathe somebody else’s filth, or their feet?” she said.

Another subway passenger did not find the idea of dead skin particles floating around in the air appealing in the slightest.

“I’m not too sure what that can do to you, but it can’t be anything good,” said the man, who identified himself as “Ronny, from New Jersey, where the air is much better.”

Pace and his team conducted a study to determine if any pathogenic microbes could pose a danger in the subway, and to provide a baseline idea of what is normal for the air in the subway in the event of something such as bioterrorism or catastrophic flooding, according to a New York Times report.

The team studied seven stations – 42nd Street-Times Square; the No. 4,5 and 6 and No. 7 stops at 42nd Street-Grand Central; Union Square; Chambers Street; Bowling Green, and the abandoned Interborough Rapid Transit Company subway station at City Hall, the newspaper reported.

The findings were published in a journal article in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the newspaper reported.

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