Study finds that NYC Subways are Crawling with Germs
What kind of microscopic life lurks in the depths of New York's sprawling subway system -- on railings, turnstiles, benches, the ubiquitous closing doors?
A team of New York City scientists spent more than a year collecting hundreds of samples of microorganisms.
Some DNA samples on subway surfaces matched no known organisms studied before, while others were fragments associated with anthrax and the bubonic plague. Gross! Make sure to bring an antibacterial travel wipe on your next ride
Medical students, graduate students and volunteers -- under the direction of senior investigator Dr. Christopher E. Mason of Weill Cornell Medical College -- had the unenviable task of spending 17 months in the New York underground collecting microorganisms from every subway station along the system's 24 lines, according to a recently published report.
Researchers determined that nearly half of the samples did "not match any known organism" -- a fact that underscores "the vast wealth of unknown species that are ubiquitous in urban areas," the report said.
The researchers tested culture samples grouped by the subway station in which they found and determined that 28% represented colonies "resistant to standard antibiotics." One subway station even produced a "multi-drug-resistant culture."