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Asbestos, Lead, PCB Exposure Potential Risk Of Environmental Aftermath From WTC Collapse
Environmental Health Perspectives Press Release, Internet Wire, December 4, 2001

    RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC -- A scientific news article released today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives suggests that the collapse of the World Trade Centers may have serious long term environmental health effects on those in harms way, including children, office workers, rescuers and residents. The article, "Environmental Aftermath," reviews the potential environmental health impact of over a million tons of steel, dust and debris falling to the earth on the Island of Manhattan.
    The analysis cites asbestos, lead and PCBs (or polychlorinated biphenyls) present in the dust created by the Twin Towers collapse as among the most potentially serious lingering exposures to the community, including rescue workers, office workers and the more than 20,000 residents, including 3,000 children, who live within half a mile of Ground Zero.
    Over 5,000 tons of asbestos had been sprayed onto the first forty floors of one of the towers before it was banned in new construction in New York in 1970. Asbestos fibers have been found in air readings taken since the tragedy, although exact levels are in dispute. It was also common practice in building construction at the time to use lead-containing paint to rust-proof steel beams. Moderately high levels of lead have been found in air readings following the disaster. Exposure to lead can cause detrimental neurological effects in children.
    PCBs have also been detected at the World Trade Center site. Although PCB manufacture was stopped in the United States in 1977, the toxic chemicals may be present in some older electrical equipment at the Twin Towers at the time of the attack. PCBs were used prior to 1977 as lubricants and coolants in electrical equipment. All samples of air taken so far have had PCB levels below EPA screening levels. However, it appears that the release of some contaminants including PCBs "may be episodic, occurring when work at the site disrupts pockets of materials buried in the rubble," according to the report.
    Environmental Health Perspectives is the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, one of the 27 institutes that make up the National Institutes of Health. OCR Services, Inc., handles marketing and public relations for the publication, and is solely responsible for creation and distribution of this press release. More info is available on the web at A full copy of the report is available by fax or e-mail (PDF format) to working media at no charge. Contact 919-541-5466

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