DHS, MIT Lincoln Lab Join Forces to Conduct Public Transit Virus Mitigation Tests

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Subway station

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory will help the Department of Homeland Security’s science and technology (DHS S&T) directorate test simple methods for preventing viral infection among travelers that use public transportation.

DHS S&T said Tuesday that it will also work with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority in virus mitigation research efforts as part of a push to help transit operators nationwide gain actionable insights to protect commuters from the coronavirus and other airborne viruses.

The weeklong testing activity is scheduled to occur between late January and early February outside of the New York City transit system’s peak operating hours without public involvement.

The DHS-Lincoln Lab-MTA partnership will spread an aerosolized water-based agent inside vehicles in a way that imitates how people breathe, talk, cough or sneeze.

Tests will take place in rail cars, subway stations and inactive buses, according to the department. DHS added that researchers will use multiple techniques to detect, quantify and model virus concentration on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning filters, face masks, skin wipes and cloth coupons.

Door and window operation, HVAC setting and air filter modification and mask use are among the measures the research team will observe during the activity.