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EPA May Test in Brooklyn for Trade Center Toxins
By David M. Levitt, Bloomberg News, February 23, 2005

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is examining whether to test for leftover World Trade Center-related contamination in northwest Brooklyn, agency officials said today.

The decision comes a month after Brooklyn officials, including U.S. Representative Major Owens and City Councilman David Yassky, both Democrats, complained the agency was overlooking toxin-laden dust that rained on Brooklyn Heights, downtown Brooklyn, and other parts of New York's most populous borough following the Sept. 11, 2001, attack.

Further testing could lead to cleanup efforts like those in Manhattan, where the U.S. government has paid for professional cleaning in more than 4,300 apartments to remove traces of asbestos, silica, poisonous metals and other contaminants.

"We're wondering how far into Brooklyn'' testing should reach, Matthew Lorber of the EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment said at a public hearing in lower

Manhattan. "There's always a cost. If we're talking about expanding, we could dilute the number of samples that are closer in vicinity to Ground Zero.''

EPA officials also said they are close to identifying the chemical "signature'' of the dust from the collapse of the towers. The cloud of debris carried pulverized concrete, and bits of fiber insulation made from minerals, known as "slag wool,'' said Jacky Rosati, an EPA researcher. Defining the dust's properties would help identify areas for cleanup.


People who live near Ground Zero have complained about elevated levels of asthma and other respiratory ailments that they attribute to the dust.

Lower Manhattan residents, scientists and environmental advocates continued to assail the EPA's proposal for sampling interior spaces, which it hopes to finish by mid-year, as not thorough enough.

Suzanne Mattei, who heads the New York City office of the Sierra Club, a nationwide environmental organization, told EPA officials that the threshold for ordering a second cleanup was too high.

"We object to the EPA's plan to use three times the background level as the trigger for cleanup of asbestos, manmade vitreous fibers and silica,'' said Mattei. "Osama bin Laden

should not be allowed to triple the level of pollution in our homes and workplaces.''

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversaw the removal of debris after the Sept. 11 disaster, has earmarked $7 million to 9 million for EPA to do the reinspections, Brown said. More money probably would have to be appropriated should a second cleanup be needed, he said.

--Editor: Young
Story illustration: For details about the Environmental Protection Agency's study of pollution in Lower Manhattan and the Technical Expert Review Panel, see . For more New York region news, see {TNYC <GO>} .
To contact the reporter on this story: David M. Levitt in New York at (1) (212) 893-4765 or
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward DeMarco at (1) (202) 624-1935 or

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