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Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Other Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds Collected in New York City in Response to the Events of 9/11

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Abstract:Concentrations of over 60 non-polar semi-volatile and non-volatile organic compounds were measured in Lower Manhattan, New York using a high capacity Integrated Organic Gas and Particle Sampler, after the initial destruction of the World Trade Center. The results indicate that the remaining air plumes from the disaster site were comprised of many pollutants and classes and represent a complex mixture of biogenic (wood-smoke) and anthropogenic sources. This mixture includes compounds that are typically associated with fossil fuel emissions and their combustion products. The molecular markers for these emissions include the high molecular weight PAHs, the n-alkanes, a Carbon Preference Index ~ 1 (odd carbon:even carbon ~ 1), as well as pristane and phytane as specific markers for fuel oil degradation. These results are not unexpected considering the large number of diesel generators and outsized vehicles used in the removal phases. The resulting air plume would also include emissions of burning and remnant materials from the WTC site. Only a small number of molecular markers for these emissions have been identified such as retene and 1,4a-dimethyl-7-(methylethyl)-1,2,3,4,9,10,10a,4a-octahydrophenanthrene which are typically biogenic in origin. In addition, the compound 1,3-diphenyl propane [1',1'-(1,3-propanediyl)bis-benzene] was observed and, to our knowledge, this species has not previously been reported from ambient sampling. It has been associated with polystyrene and other plastics, which are in abundance at the WTC site. These emissions lasted for at least three weeks (9/26/01-10/21/01) after the initial destruction of the WTC.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency through its Office of Research and Development funded and managed the research described here. It has been subjected to Agency Review and approval for publication. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation for use.
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Citation:Swartz, E., L. Stockburger, and D. A. Vallero. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Other Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds Collected in New York City in Response to the Events of 9/11. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 37(16):3537-3546, (2003).
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Contact: Liz Hope - (919) 541-2785 or hope.elizabeth@epa.gov
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Division: Human Exposure & Atmospheric Sciences Division
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Branch: Environmental Characterization & Apportionment Branch
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Product Type: Journal
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Published: 07/22/2003
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Bullet Item Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Other Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds Collected in New York City in Response to the Events of 9/11
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Bullet Item Environmental Science and Technology   Exit EPA's Web Site
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Bullet Item Characterization of PM and Air Toxics Associated With the World Trade Center
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