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Environment

Experts reject EPA plan to test for WTC dust contamination

December 19, 2005 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 83, ISSUE 51

Experts roundly rejected EPA's plan to test apartments and commercial space in lower Manhattan for dust contamination from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack and collapse of the World Trade Center buildings. But despite this rebuff, EPA is forging ahead with the plan, announced on Nov. 29 (C&EN, Dec. 5, page 44). Last week, members of EPA's WTC Expert Technical Review Panel, who have met 12 times since April 2004, called the plan flawed and said they would not recommend that Manhattan residents volunteer for the testing. A major concern of panel members is that EPA abandoned its originally proposed plan to use the presence of slag wool, an insulating material, as a marker to distinguish WTC dust from other dust found in urban environments. After peer reviewers criticized plans to use slag wool as a "signature" for WTC dust, EPA changed the plan and will now check for "contaminants of potential concern," including asbestos and lead. But members of the expert panel said the agency incorrectly interpreted the peer reviewers' comments.

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