'Beyond Vulgar': Human Hair Buildup Poses Metro Threat

There's so much hair building up in the Metro system that it is creating the risk of fire, Adam Tuss reports for News4. The hair looks like a thick layer of felt, one-eighth of an inch thick, a transit expert said.

(Published Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017)

Hair and other human fibers are accumulating in Washington D.C. Metro tunnels in such large quantities that the gunk poses a threat of electrical sparks and fire, a transit consultant tells News4.

So much hair and skin cells built up on insulators that support the electrified third rails that the mess looks like a thick layer of felt, said a safety specialist from Amalgamated Transit Union, the largest labor union representing transit employees in North America.

News4's Adam Tuss got to the bottom of why he saw a "half car seat, half man" driving a van in Arlington on Monday.

(Published Monday, Aug. 7, 2017)

"I was flabbergasted -- flabbergasted -- at the amount of hair that's in the Metro," Brian Sherlock said.

It's not just hair and fibers -- dust and debris also are gathering, according to Sherlock.

He said the issue can become especially dangerous when debris gathers near the high-voltage third rail.

"The amount of debris is just beyond vulgar to think of," Sherlock said.

College freshman Alexa Duran died Thursday in the Miami bridge collapse, officials have confirmed. Duran was killed as she was driving home from a doctor’s appointment and the bridge collapsed on top of her car. Her friend Richard Humble was in the passenger’s seat and survived.

(Published Friday, March 16, 2018)

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld acknowledged the issue.

"Hair literally comes off of people and off of clothing and gets sucked up," he said.

This hair issue is not one that Metro has independently studied, but Metro has made efforts to increase the regularity of trackbed cleaning since 2016, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.