Breathe easy: there’s one BILLION bacteria in the subway air

Should we tell them, or just leave them to their gross love? via Crushable
Should we tell them, or just leave them to their gross love? via Crushable

Did that headline make you itchy? Maybe make you go invest in one of those air masks people wear during bird flu? Sorry, it’s maybe a teensy bit misleading, but yes, a study of subway air quality really did find one billion bacteria floating around back there. No no no, don’t worry, there’s good bacteria and bad bacteria, remember?

Contrary to what you might be thinking right now, the study wasn’t done just so that excitable bloggers could squick you out the day after your three day weekend. The study was done by Dr. Norman Pace, who was curious about the subway’s air quality. The Times points out the study provides a good baseline of subway air quality in case someone tries a bio-terror attack down there, but the study can also put you at ease: the air down there is fine.

Pace’s team didn’t find any human pathogens floating around, the air quality was basically the same as in the areas they tested above-ground and only about 5 percent of the bacteria came from human skin. Pace told the Times that they didn’t find anything “more threatening than the people standing next to you on the platform,” but still…one billion bacteria. Pity the poor fool who walks on there was some kind of Matrix vision but for bacteria instead of computer code.

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