When you ride mass transit, rarely do you think of toxic run-off with long-term side-effects, but that’s exactly what the New York Police Department and Brookhaven National Laboratory have in mind for the millions of daily commuters that call New York their home. Sponsored by the Department of Defense, all five boroughs and 21 subway lines are being sprayed with perflourocarbons (PFC). In the case of a truly deadly gas attack on the subway, these gases are ironically being promoted for safety standards, but are these greenhouse gases truly safe? In fact, should they be used at all?
Perfluorocarbons are used in the creation of textiles, plastics, solvents, furniture, carpet, paints, fire-foaming agents, and even contribute to global warming. If that wasn’t bad enough, perfluorocarbons are completely odorless, colorless, and man-made, which makes early detection and avoidance nearly impossible. Even worse, many people are unaware that perfluorocarbons and PFC exposure pose a serious health risk. According to the study done in 2011 by the West Virginia School of Medicine, researchers discovered that perfluorocarbons disrupt the endocrine system, causing thyroid issues, early menopause, and infertility. And because perfluorocarbons are bio-accumulative, they gradually build up over time in both tissue and blood. With the potential for liver and kidney impairment, perfluorocarbons have the ability to cause tumor growth resulting in apoptosis.
Even with the reassurance that these chemicals are for the benefit of a potential terrorist attack, homeland security has let the city of New York down. Referring to these gases as “harmless” is putting men, women, and children at risk for disease. With both state and higher-level government officials claiming the need for more chemicals, it looks like a real solution could be quite the opposite.