Thursday, July 18, 2013

Just To Know: Silent & Deadly - Gas Relief

Initiated by the New York Police Department (NYPD) released plumes of a chemical gas called "Perfluorocarbons". This happened in parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, & Manhattan, this gas was released in several subways and street levels for 30 minutes during the morning. Researchers were tracking the movement of the gas and placed air sampling devices in certain areas on the street and in the subway. 

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the study will help safeguard the city against attacks.
"The NYPD works for the best but plans for the worst when it comes to potentially catastrophic attacks such as ones employing radiological contaminants or weaponized anthrax," said Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, adding that, "This field study with Brookhaven's outstanding expertise will help prepare and safeguard the city's population in the event of an actual attack."

Working with the U.S. Department Of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, is funded through a $3.4 million federal grant.
Researchers from Argonne National Laboratory  and Los Alamos National Laboratory with meteorologists and engineers are supporting Brookhaven's scientists as they track the movement.
Take Note 
*The subway system is the nations largest with about 5 million riders per day.*
It was said this is part of an "Attack Drill"
It was officially stated that the purpose of the drill was to assess how terrorists might try to disburse more harmful chemicals into public space as part of a future biological attack.

This gas was derived from the waste of aluminum processing plants. It was said that this gas is "safe". 
So Lets Dig Deeper!

       Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) are man-made compounds 

containing just fluorine and carbon. They are generally 

colourless, odourless non-flammable gases at environmental 

temperatures and for the most part chemically un-reactive.

They are approximately twice as dense as water, and are capable of dissolving large amounts of physiologically important gases (mainly oxygen and carbon dioxide).

The major release is from primary aluminium production. 

The semiconductor industry is a relatively minor source and 

there are other small emissions from the refrigeration sector 

(leakage during operation and at the end of life destruction 

of equipment) and fire extinguishing systems. Usage of this 

chemical is mainly in the electronics sector in semiconductor 

manufacture, however there is also significant usage as 

refrigerants. There is also some minor use as environmental 

tracer gases, in some fire extinguishing systems and in 

certain cosmetics and medical applications.

Excessive exposure to perfluorocarbons may cause effects on the brain and heart. The main environmental concern  is the role these compounds play as greenhouse gases, influencing climate change. Consequently PFCs are controlled under the Kyoto Protocol. 
Kyoto Protocol

The concept of Global Warming Potential provides a common scale to compare the relative ability of different gases to trap heat in the atmosphere. They have extremely high global warming potentials (5,000 to 10,000 times that of carbon dioxide). However, because they are only released in relatively small amounts, their contribution to global warming is minor. Due to their stability they have very long atmospheric lifetimes (thousands of years).