Friday, October 18, 2013

Subway Air Monitor, 34th Street, NYC

Photo: MK Metz
 Here's a type of air monitor we haven't seen before:

McBrooklyn saw the above DEP air monitor at the 34th Street subway station in Manhattan. While looking for an exact explanation of what the unit was monitoring, we found this plausible-sounding explanation on Reddit:

"These are being used to detect and monitor particulate matter and various gases. The noise you hear is a vacuum pump, sucking air in through the silver mechanism on the top of the pole. There, it pulls the air into various filters set to catch particulates of certain sizes. The filters are removed and examined on a regular basis.

"From there, the air travels into the box portion where several sensors check for toxic and/or radioactive gases (VOCs, CO2, etc). The data is logged and retrieved when they collect the filters.
They usually set up the portables in and a few stations away form where work is taking place, or in crowded/busy stations, to make certain the air in the station isn't too bad."

Other types of air monitoring devices have been installed near bridges, such as those in DUMBO near the Brooklyn Bridge. These check for for dangerous chemicals, radiation, etc.

In addition, over the summer the city installed 200 air monitors around the city as part of a test to see where perfluorocarbon gas goes after being released in Manhattan. The gas is a stand-in for whatever airborne toxin some sicko decides to drop in the subway, such as "radiological contaminants or weaponized anthrax."

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