Air Today . . . Gone Tomorrow Article|
WTC Cleanup Revisited
By Cheryl Hogue,
Chemical & Engineering News, Volume 82, Number 14, April 5, 2004
Panel advises EPA how to determine if apartments were recontaminated
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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