Fentanyl and methamphetamine are in the air and on surfaces in mass transit buses and trains. University of Washington researchers studied mass transit in the Seattle and Portland areas. They took multiple air and surface samples. They found methamphetamine in nearly all samples and fentanyl in less than half of the samples. None of the amounts were at a level that could have a toxic effect on passengers or operators. There are no state or federal safety standards for safe drug levels. They recommend better filtration and increased cleaning of buses and trains.
TriMet issued the following response:
TriMet values the health and well-being of riders and employees, and that’s why we have been working to keep the rampant use of illicit drugs in our community off our buses and trains. In the past two years, our general manager and other leadership have testified before Oregon lawmakers, city councilors and county commissioners asking state and regional leaders to address drugs and crime before they extend onto our transit system.
· Significantly increased security personnel for more on-board presence,
· Updated the TriMet Code to address illicit drugs however we can,
· Updated standard procedures for when someone is seen smoking drugs on board,
· And now we’ve taken part in a first-of-its kind study of fentanyl and methamphetamine in the air and on surfaces of transit vehicles.
The University of Washington released the results of that study, which included testing on some TriMet MAX trains. The study did not assess the health impacts on our riders and operators from the traces found in air and surfaces samples, so TriMet sought the expertise of health experts. Among them, Dr. Robert Hendrickson, a professor of emergency medicine and medical toxicologist at OHSU and the Medical Director of the Oregon Poison Center.
“The concentration of drugs detected in the air and on surfaces in this study were extremely low and would not cause harm to TriMet riders and operators,” Hendrickson said. “There is no threat to the public related to these study results, and individuals who use public transportation for travel needs should continue to feel safe doing so.”