Today, New York is conducting a simulated toxic gas attack in order to train first responders in how to handle such a situation.

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Today, the NYPD will be releasing a gas into the New York subway system as part of a three day simulated terror attack. The gas, which is both colorless and odorless so commuters won’t be able to tell it’s there, is intended to help map how air flows through the tunnels of the subway system. This will in turn help emergency responders in the event of an actual toxic gas attack.

Funded by a $3.4 million grant by the Department of Homeland Security, the NYPD is conducting the simulation together with the Brookhaven National Laboratory. The laboratory is going to be responsible for tracking the flow and dispersion of the gas using small and nondescript meters placed at select subway stations this earlier this morning.

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The test will release Perflourocarbon tracers, a non-toxic gas at 200 subway stations in small doses. By using the meters to detect concentrations of gas flow, the scientists at Brookhaven will be able to create a “plume model” of how gas moves in the NY Subway. This model will then be used by emergency responders if an actual toxin, say from a dirty bomb, is ever released.

“The study will show us the worst case scenario,” said Paul Kelb of Brookhaven, “It’ll be a close representation of how particles from a bio weapon or dirty bomb could move through the air. Anything on the surface can get sucked down into the subway through air grates. And likewise, anything on the subway eventually makes its way to the street.”

Via Gizmodo