Air Today . . . Gone Tomorrow Article

Asbestos: Alarmingly High Levels: Many fire trucks at Ground Zero have been contaminated
Newsweek, Suzanne Smalley, Periscope, August 4, 2002

    Bobby Stanlewicz''s exposure to disease-causing chemicals didn''t end when he left Ground Zero. The 35-year-old firefighter who is suffering from respiratory disease has learned that he''s spent the past year working in a contaminated truck.
    THE NONPROFIT NEW YORK Environmental Law and Justice Project recently tested some of the same engines that the New York Fire Department had approved as safe in February, and found asbestos concentrations as high as five times the 1 percent safety limit. ""The OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] standard is that asbestos does not become carcinogenic until it is airborne,"" says the FDNY''s Frank Gribbon. But that standard is not ideal. ""This is a material that becomes hazardous if disturbed, which it almost surely will [be] in a fire truck full of foot traffic,"" said Dr. Stephen Levin of Mount Sinai''s Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine. ""OSHA acknowledges that even with exposures that meet their standards, some people will develop asbestos-related cancers."" Last week FDNY announced a $2 million-plus contract that will pay for the decontamination of hundreds of dust-tainted Ground Zero trucks.


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