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Against the Gassing of New York City Subways

Against the Gassing of New York City Subways

***The No Spray Coalition will be holding a press conference on the steps of NY City Hall, Tuesday, July 23rd, 3 p.m. ***

The No Spray Coalition objects to the release of unnamed, potentially harmful perflurocarbon gasses in New York City subways, buses and streets. Brookhaven National Laboratory is releasing these gases under a $3.4 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security and in conjunction with the New York City Police Department and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Without consent, New Yorkers are being experimented on via the subways and streets of the five boroughs of New York City over a three day period during the month of July 2013.

This first release of perflurocarbons in the subways and streets under the program deemed "S-SAFE" -- Subway-Surface Air Flow Exchange -- began July 9, with less than the stated 24-hour notice; the the second was Friday, July 19th -- there is one more day of gas releases which will be taking place sometime before the end of the month.
 
While the stated goal of these experiments -- tracking airflow patterns in the subways and on the streets to best predict what might happen if a terrorist released deadly chemical, biological or radiological agents in the city -- may have some merit, this does not justify the potential health and environmental risks of the perfluorocarbon gases that will be used in these experiments, the meager information to and review by the public, nor the lack of proper oversight and approval by local and national health agencies. There are already enough studies and models of air dispersions; this study is not needed.

Scientific studies have linked Perfluorocarbons to infertility in women, menopause, birth defects, liver damage and thyroid damage among other conditions. We do not consent to New Yorkers being exposed to gases that can potentially cause such harms. The city and state have many other options such as using computer models, studying the gas attack that took place in Japan, installing air monitors in every subway station, etc.

While NYPD officials have declared the unspecified gasses to be "safe", David Carpenter, Institute for Health and Environment, Univ. at Albany, says otherwise:

"Perfluorocarbons are dangerous substances. PFOS and PFOA have been best studied, as they are the major components in Telfon and Scotchgard, but it is likely that the whole family of fluorocarbons have similar adverse health effects. They are being shown to interfere with cognitive function in children, and in promoting ADHD-type behavioral changes. They have been known to increase risk of cancer for a long time, starting with study of 3M workers, and now are being found to increase risk of the metabolic syndrome and diabetes even in adolescents as well as adults. They interfere with thyroid function. These all is addition to being potent greenhouse gases and depleters of the ozone layer. They are soluble in water, unlike many of the other persistent chemicals like PCBs and DDT. So I see no justification for their use in looking at patterns of air flow in subways!"

Toxicology specialist Dr. Robert Simon has issued statements concurring with Dr. Carpenter here.

The No Spray Coalition objects to the fact that there have been no public hearings on the health and environmental risks for this study of the release and dispersal of perfluorocarbons, which are also greenhouse gases. There has been no environmental impact statement. The NYPD will not make the names of the specific 7 perfluorocarbons to be used available to the public. We object to the cloak of secrecy over how these gases will be released and at which subway stations and street locations.
 
United States Code (USC) 1520a under the heading: Restrictions on use of human subjects for testing of chemical or biological agents, states the following:

"The Secretary of Defense may conduct a test or experiment described in subsection (b) of this section only if informed consent to the testing was obtained from each human subject in advance of the testing on that subject."

This law makes it clear that informed consent is required before any experiments can be conducted on American citizens. This has not been done with respect to the tests planned for New York City subways and streets. The public has not even been told which perfluorocarbons will be used which makes informed consent impossible.

Brookhaven National Laboratory has said that there will be one non-perfluorocarbon chemical used as well, but will not say what it is! Similar studies have used Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), a non-perfluorocarbon, which displaces oxygen in the lungs, thus carrying the risk of asphyxia if too much is inhaled. This could be fatal for those with pulmonary disease, heart disease, etc.

The No Spray Coalition demands that these experiments on the people of New York City cease immediately and public hearings be held regarding the safety of these gases, as part of a proper environmental and health review. We do not give consent to being experimented upon.

The No Spray Coalition was founded in 1999 in opposition to the City of New York’s mass spraying of Malathion, Piperonyl Butoxide, Pyrethroids and other dangerous pesticides to kill mosquitoes said to be carrying West Nile Virus. The Coalition filed a lawsuit against the NYC government at the time, and proposed safer alternative ways of repelling mosquitoes. We were successful in achieving a favorable settlement with the New York City government 7 years later, under the Clean Water Act.

ENDS

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