Researchers Revise New York City Subway Bacteria Study

The New York City subway has been falsely accused of being dirty and unsanitary for decades. This stereotyped conclusion is far from the truth. Although not the place to dine in, as a transportation system, the New York City subway is as clean as any other system in the world and probably cleaner than some European subways, such as the London Metro and the Metro in Rome.

Recent research in June, 2016 confirms the assertion that the subways are respectively ‘cleaner’ than what most people would think.

The Wall Street Journal reported that in an erratum published July 29, 2015, in the journal Cell Systems that researchers who mapped DNA found in the subway system in New York City said they had mistakenly interpreted data that had led to their original claim, which said that they had found bubonic plague and anthrax DNA traces at certain subway stations. The authors of the study have subsequently revised their conclusions.

“Speaking of Science”, a Washington Post blog points out that after the CDC and the New York City Department of Health pushed back the study, authors made the correction. The method of “data collection was just fine – so they’re not retracting their study – but they admit that their interpretations may have been a bit speculative in nature, and that the media’s interpretation of those interpretations got a little out of control.”

Time reports that referring “to the bubonic plague and anthrax findings, the researchers write, ‘There is minimal coverage to the backbone genome of these organisms, and there is no strong evidence to suggest these organisms are in fact present, and no evidence of pathogenicity.’”