Planning A Trip To The Big Apple? Take A Closer Look At What Lives On NYC Subways!

Ever wondered why you often get sick after traveling? Was it because the air conditioner was too cold on the plane? Or because it was raining on your way home from the station and you got soaking wet? Probably not. The most common reason why anybody gets sick after traveling is germs. Public transportation of any kind – whether it’s planes, buses, trains, or subways – is a breeding ground for germs. While many germs are actually not harmful to you, others can make you sick in an instant. 

Let’s take a closer look at one of the busiest subway systems in the world:  The New York City MTA. With an average of 5.6 million subway riders a day and around 1.75 billion passengers a year, the Big Apple’s underground transit system ranks 7th in the world after other metropolis’ such as Beijing and Tokyo. While many tourists visiting New York might be impressed with the MTA, most people living in the city have kind of a love-hate relationship with the subway. Yes, it does get you to almost every part of the city and yes, it will (mostly) get you everywhere faster than any taxi or uber.

However, despite occasional annoyances such as delayed or cancelled trains, and packed carts that make you get uncomfortably close with strangers, subways used by that amount of people are mainly one thing: completely infested with nasty germs. New York’s subway poles harbor the most colorful mix of bacteria and microorganisms you can imagine. In fact, over 500 different species of bacteria can be found on Manhattan’s subway lines.

A Brooklyn photographer recently decided to collect bacteria from 22 subway lines, cultivated them and captured the cultures in stunning photographs. Here are some examples of the microorganisms he found on the different trains:

  • L train: E. coli, Proteus mirabilis, Micrococcus luteus, Bacillus subtilis, and Serratia marcescens. Most of these germs can cause anything from diarrhea and abdominal cramping to fever and nausea.
  • G train: E. coli, Salmonella, Micrococcus luteus and Bacillus subtilis. Especially salmonella is known to cause an estimate of one million illnesses yearly in the United States, with 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths.
  • D train: E. Coli, Staphylococcus aureus and mold. A staph infection can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, severe abdominal cramps, or mild fever.
  • 7 train: Staphylococcus aureus and Micrococcus luteus.
  • Z train: Proteus vulgaris, which is a bacteria commonly found in fecal matter.
  • S train: E. coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus.
  • 4, 5, 6 trains: some containing Streptococcus agalactiae.

The learning from these findings? Protect yourself when using public transportation and avoid contact with surfaces frequently touched by many people! The example of New York City’s subways illustrates how germs are lurking everywhere, but this also counts for airplanes, buses and other public spaces. To stay healthy you should actively avoid touching public surfaces and always have hand sanitizer with you in case you accidentally touch anything. Also, Brooklyn native, Jason Yakubovich’s invention might help you: Pandle, a nanosilver-infused silicone handle that protects your hands from germs and improves your grip on the same time. Check it out here:

For more information and pictures of microorganisms on the NYC subway, see the full Huffington Post article

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