Air Today . . . Gone Tomorrow Article

Asbestos on Some Fire Vehicles Exceeds Limits
By William Murphy, Newsday Staff Writer, May 21, 2002

    Some city firefighters have been riding around for the past seven months in vehicles that contain asbestos residue, probably from the World Trade Center, that exceeds federal levels, officials said yesterday. An independent testing laboratory found asbestos levels in three vehicles used at the World Trade Center that greatly exceed federal limits, the Uniformed Firefighters Association said.
    The Fire Department, which had insisted as late as last week that there was no health risk, said yesterday that all the rigs would be cleaned under federal decontamination standards. "We just got confirmation from FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] that they will pick up the cost of the cleaning," department spokesman Frank Gribbon said.
    Gribbon said all 200 pieces of fire equipment that responded to the World Trade Center will be cleaned by a contractor the department plans to hire. The cleaning is expected to cost about $2 million.
    The most contaminated fire rig was the Collapse Unit, a specialty company based in the Bronx, which had 6.3 fibers per cubic centimeter, according to tests conducted by Public Service Testing Laboratories, based in Woodside. The federal standards for asbestos exposure is 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeters.
    Tests on two other units - Ladder 12 of Manhattan and a back-up unit from Maspeth's Hazardous Materials Unit - showed asbestos levels at 1.3 parts per cubic centimeter, the laboratory report said. "Basically, it's over the acceptable limit and all state, city and federal regulations apply," said Stephen DiMartino, the assistant technical director for the company.
    The firefighters union said it had complained for months that the various firefighting units at the trade center were never decontaminated properly. The union said most of the cleaning consisted of firefighters hosing down the rigs or blowing dust off with air pressure from personal air tanks. "I keep getting told by the department that the air quality is acceptable within [federal] limits, but I have all these guys complaining about respiratory problems," said Thomas Manley, health and safety coordinator for the Uniformed Firefighters Association.
    "I'm being told by the job [Fire Department] that they don't have the money," Manley said earlier yesterday.

This article contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of democracy, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this article is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

Take me back to learn more