Air Today . . . Gone Tomorrow Article

Firefighters' union says asbestos found in three more trucks
Newsday, May 20, 2002

    NEW YORK (AP) _ Asbestos levels high enough to require decontamination have been detected on three active fire trucks that were present during the World Trade Center collapse, the firefighters' union said Monday. The Fire Department of New York has said it conducted air-quality tests in the 200 fire trucks that were present when the twin towers collapsed and later returned to service. Fewer than six required decontamination, the department said.
    The Uniformed Firefighters Association has been pushing for professional decontamination of all the trucks, however, saying that fibers of the carcinogenic fireproofing component could be further harming firefighters who inhaled airborne contaminants at the trade center site.
    The fire union last week tested three trucks that had passed department air testing. Debris found in the vehicles' cabs and engine compartments was between 1.3 percent and 6.3 percent asbestos, union officials said.
    Local and federal rules require material that's more than 1 percent asbestos be removed by certified cleanup crews with protective respirators. "I've been waiting for eight months to get these fire trucks cleaned and decontaminated," said Tom Manley, the union's health and safety officer. "I have guys riding fire trucks that still have respiratory problems."
    Manley said the fire department now is decontaminating the trucks. A department spokesman did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Monday.
    Both trade center towers had asbestos fireproofing on heating pipes, interior spaces and the support columns behind their distinctive metal cladding. Of dust samples taken around lower Manhattan and tested by the Environmental Protection Agency, up to 35 percent were more than 1 percent asbestos.

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