WTC CLEANUP REVISITED | April 5, 2004 Issue - Vol. 82 Issue 14 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 82 Issue 14 | p. 15 | News of The Week
Issue Date: April 5, 2004

WTC CLEANUP REVISITED

Panel advises EPA how to determine if apartments were recontaminated
Department: Government & Policy
STIRRED UP
Hazardous dust from the World Trade Center again may be polluting nearby apartment buildings through their ventilation systems.
Credit: PHOTO BY SETH HOROWITZ
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STIRRED UP
Hazardous dust from the World Trade Center again may be polluting nearby apartment buildings through their ventilation systems.
Credit: PHOTO BY SETH HOROWITZ

INDOOR AIR

More than 30 months have passed since terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center (WTC). The debris is gone and nearby apartments have been cleaned of the dust from the collapse of the towers. But some residents of Lower Manhattan continue to suffer health effects related to the dust.

Last week, a panel of experts convened by EPA began to probe thorny technical issues related to determining whether apartments have been recontaminated with WTC dust through heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems. The committee is reviewing a proposed study to ascertain whether apartments that EPA cleaned following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks remain clean.

One issue concerns EPA's testing of dust and air samples for the presence of asbestos. Asbestos exposure is linked to long-term health problems. Yet the immediate health concerns of those people who live in the cleaned apartments are their recurring bouts of coughs and bronchitis.

The panel must determine if it is appropriate for EPA to use asbestos as a surrogate to test for glass fibers, which are part of the WTC debris but are difficult to detect. EPA assumes that by cleaning up asbestos, glass fibers will be removed, too. Many physicians believe that nearby residents' health complaints are linked to glass fiber debris. Panel experts explained that the glass fibers are covered with cement and gypsum dust, which are high-pH materials that can irritate the upper respiratory tract.

The panel plans to meet again on April 12.

 
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