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Air Pollution Measurements in the Vicinity of the World Trade Center Summary of Measurements Conducted By EPA-Ord

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Abstract:The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development (EPA-ORD) was requested by EPA's Region 2 office in New York on 9/12/01 to assist with air quality monitoring in response to the collapse of the World Trade Center. Scientists at the U.S. EPA-ORD's National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL) quickly assembled a field team and prepared monitoring equipment to be used in the response. The NERL field team traveled from Research Triangle Park, NC and arrived in New York on 9/16/01. There we coordinated with the Emergency Response Team (ERT) headed by the U.S. Coast Guard and outlined a monitoring strategy to support the efforts of the ERT. The ERT also worked closely with the U.S. EPA Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards to set up an asbestos monitoring network in lower Manhattan.

Because the full extent of the hazards associated with the WTC were not yet known, we set out to characterize the on-going emissions associated with the fires and the materials generated during debris removal, especially particulate matter (PM). The initial collapse of the WTC towers produced in excess of one million tons of pulverized debris and combusted materials - both respirable and non-respirable PM including asbestos fibers and other potentially irritating materials - that blanketed lower Manhattan. Debris removal was likely to resuspend respirable sized PM (< 10 micrometers, PM10), which could migrate into inhabited portions of the city and, therefore, it was important to characterize the levels of pollutants in the settled dust as well. The smoldering fires generated products of incomplete combustion including partially oxygenated organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), as well as fine PM (< 2.5 micrometers, PM2.5), which can penetrate deep into the lungs.

This paper summarizes the efforts undertaken by the U.S. EPA-ORD in response to the World Trade Center and presents results on the monitored air pollutants. Some recommendations are made regarding future directions in air monitoring in response to environmental disasters, such as terrorist attacks.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through its Office of Research and Development produced the research described here. This manuscript has been peer reviewed and approved by EPA for publication. This manuscript does not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the EPA.
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Citation:Vette, A. F., R. L. Seila, E. C. Swartz, J. D. Pleil, and L. Webb. Air Pollution Measurements in the Vicinity of the World Trade Center Summary of Measurements Conducted By EPA-Ord. EM: AIR AND WASTE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATIONS MAGAZINE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGERS (February):23-26, (2004).
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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: Exposure Measurements & Analysis Branch
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Product Type: Other Journl
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Published: 02/01/2004
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Related Entries:
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Bullet Item Characterization of PM and Air Toxics Associated With the World Trade Center
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