2007_01_airmonitor.jpg

After Monday's mercaptany-smell attack on our noses, various city officials tried to reassure New Yorkers that the odor, however disgusting, was completely harmless. That conclusion was based on various tests conducted as well as the chemical detection systems at different locations. Above is a photograph of one sensor at Penn Station (yes, that's what the thing is!). The MTA says, "We do have very good, sophisticated devices in place" to detect biological agents. Apparently the monitors are better at detecting scents (remember the stories of how they would think cleaning fluids were dangerous?) and now have cameras installed, too. We wonder if the air monitors can someday gauge how gross non-dangerous smells are, because those are a sort of terror.

As it happens, parts of Staten Island were treated to a disgusting smell yesterday that officials do not believe was linked to the Monday stink (although a 16 year old student who smelled it at school told the Advance the two incidents had to be connected). And the mysteries of Monday still linger, as New Jersey thinks NYC's accusations that NJ dealt it are inappropriate. For chuckles, via the Post, here's what the late night guys were saying:

JAY LENO: Did you all hear about this? Today there was a bad smell all throughout New York City. Subways were evacuated. Shows you how strong the odor was when you can smell a bad odor over the odor of stale urine in the subway.
DAVID LETTERMAN: The smell was so bad, the Statue of Liberty, instead of holding the torch, was holding her nose.
CONAN O'BRIEN: Apparently, New Yorkers knew something was wrong because it smelled bad when they got out of their taxis.

And today, the NY Times has an editorial, Eau de New York City: "New Yorkers have spent the last few days getting sneering phone calls and e-mail from friends in distant places. Some recommended their favorite air fresheners or asked if we washed our socks."

Photographs of the air monitor at Penn Station by Kathy Willens/AP