King County Metro installs air monitors to study effects of fentanyl

Mar 28, 2023, 3:54 PM | Updated: 3:58 pm

King County metro bus fentanyl on buses...

Worker inspects a King County Metro bus. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Officials from King County Metro, in partnership with the University of Washington (UW), have authorized the placement of monitors on board buses to study the effects that drug use, specifically fentanyl, has on air quality.

This comes after drivers complained about fentanyl smoke affecting their health, including when a section of the Link Light rail had to be closed due to a person smoking fentanyl in the lead railcar.

From the Dori Monson archives: Metro driver worries about bus passengers’ exposure to secondhand drug smoke

The new air quality monitors will be a part of a study conducted by UW to study airflow, cleaning, protocols, and the impact of drug use on employee and rider health.

“While drug incidents on Metro are not common, our goal remains zero. When an incident does happen, not enough is known about airflow and whether substances linger,” King County Metro spokesperson Jeff Switzer said in a blog post.

This study could challenge the notion that second-hand fentanyl exposures are of minimal risk to others, according to Seattle-King County Public Health.

“When someone smokes fentanyl, most of the drug has been filtered out by the user before there is secondhand smoke. It doesn’t just sort of float around. Studies have looked at fentanyl concentrations in the bloodstream after someone has had secondhand fentanyl exposure from smoke,” a report on fentanyl from April 2022 said.

Drivers have brought up concerns about the long-term health effects of exposure to second-hand fentanyl, according to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), stating they hoped this study would inform improvements to airflow, cleaning protocols, and filters in support of employee and rider health.

Cyclist makes, posts ‘do not block’ bike lane signs on Capitol Hill

Work to collect air and surface samples and assess airflow patterns is scheduled to begin in the coming weeks onboard Metro and Sound Transit Link light rail.

Other research partners include Community Transit, Everett Transit, and TriMet in Portland.

King County Metro asks the public to report all instances of public drug use.

Local News

Amazon walkout...

Bill Kaczaraba

Seattle Amazon workers planning noon walkout Wednesday

Some Amazon workers at Seattle headquarters announced internally their plans to walkout next Wednesday, according to reports.

17 hours ago

hurricane ridge day lodge...

Frank Sumrall

Hurricane Ridge closed indefinitely following Day Lodge fire

Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge will be closed indefinitely after a fire in early May destroyed the Day Lodge.

17 hours ago

Stranger Things Seattle...

Micki Gamez

Seattle ‘Stranger Things the Experience’ brings Netflix series to life

If you are a fan of the Netflix series Stranger Things, then you have to check out 'Stranger Things the Experience' in Seattle.

17 hours ago

kayak westsuit bellevue robbery...

Frank Sumrall

Burglars equipped with kayaks, wetsuits, rob $20K from Bellevue home

Burglars equipped with kayaks and wetsuits, broke into a home in Bellevue along Lake Washington last Thursday, according to police.

17 hours ago

medicaid coverage ending Washington...

KIRO Newsradio staff

Medicaid coverage ending for some in Washington state

Medicaid coverage is ending for some in Washington state as people must resume proving the financial need to continue their health insurance.

17 hours ago


Associated Press

Body of avalanche victim in Washington state recovered after being spotted by volunteer

Search crews have recovered the body of a climber who was one of three killed in an avalanche on Washington's Colchuck Peak in February.

17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

King County Metro installs air monitors to study effects of fentanyl