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News Reports Discussing September 11th Toxins
September 2001


September 12:

ABC: Health Hazards Attacks Pose Continued Dangers
NYT: With City Transit Shut Down, New Yorkers Take to Eerily Empty Streets
Reuters: Health Effects of World Trade Dust Cloud May Linger
NYDN: Debris & Death Drape Downtown NEW!


September 13:

ABC: Fouled Air? Health Officials Stress Caution, But Say Measured Levels Safe
LAT: Agonizing Search for Survivors
NYT: Challenges and Dangers in Disposing of Two Fallen Giants
New Scientist: Smoke and dust threaten New Yorkers
NYP: Rescuers up against New Peril - Asbestos
NYDN: At The Pit, the Bravest Rescuers Weep and Work NEW!
NYDN: Smoke and Stench Cannot Mask the Strength to Rebuild NEW!


September 14:

NYT: Monitors Say Health Risk From Smoke Is Very Small
MSNBC: Asbestos Alert How much of the chemical does the World Trade Center wreckage contain?
Reuters: Safety of Breathing in Manhattan Still Uncertain
Reuters (Planet Ark): Safety of breathing in Manhattan still up in air
FOX: Asbestos Could Have Saved WTC Lives
CounterPunch: Chemical War in Manhattan (from Aftershocks)
NYP: Asbestos in Dust from the Collapse
MSNBC: Cloud of acrid air haunts New Yorkers Many concerned about potential health woes
CNN: CDC, EPA: Little risk to public from sites
NYDN: A Fight vs. Steel, Despair & Weather Rescuers press on valiantly, despite odds NEW!


September 15:

Natural Health Line: The World Trade Center Attack: Will the Environmental Impacts Harm Even More?
Globe & Mail: 'That's a major, major toxic soup'


September 16:

Newsday: TERRORIST ATTACKS /Asbestos Targeted In Cleanup Effort


September 17:

Reuters (Planet Ark): UPDATE: Safety of breathing in Manhattan still uncertain
NYDN: Lower Manhattan Goes Back on the Job Today: Stock exchange, many businesses will reopen NEW!


September 18:

NYT: HAUNTING QUESTION: Did the Ban on Asbestos Lead to Loss of Life?
Nando Times: Dust from World Trade Center collapse tested for health effects
NYP: N.Y. Can Breathe Free
NYT: Anguish and Frustration for Doctors With No One to Treat
NYT: Dust Is a Problem, but the Risk Seems Small
NO: Dust from World Trade Center collapse tested for health effects


September 19:

BBC: New York health fears
NYDN: Job Is Back-Breaking, Heartbreaking for Heroes NEW!
NYDN: Sad and Slow Sifting Tons of wreckage scrutinized at S.I. landfill NEW!


September 20:

NYT: For Asthmatic Children, an Extra Health Burden
NYT: It's Going to Take More Than Elbow Grease
NYT: Cleanup Specialists
BW: What's Lurking in That Smoke?


September 23:

NYDN: Fearful Tenants Fight to Break Leases: They want out of Battery Park NEW!


September 24:

ENS: Moving The Weight of the World Trade Center


September 25:

WSJ: EPA Is Doubted on Testing at Attack Site


September 26:

MSNBC: Uneasy breathing: As the dust settles in New York, concerns linger about health risks in the air
VV: The Dust May Never Settle


September 27:

Reuters: U.S. to Test Subways Against Chemical Attack


September 28:

NYDN: Health Hazards in Air Worry Trade Center Workers
NYDN: Debris Can Aggravate Lung, Asthma Woes
NYDN: Stuyvesant HS Planning Stringent Tests for Asbestos


September 29:

NYDN: Traces of Asbestos Further Setback for HS: Findings could delay Stuyvesant reopening NEW!
NYDN: State Workers Flee WTC Smoke NEW!
NYDN: Asbestos in Ground Zero Air Generally Safe, EPA Shows NEW!



September 12, 2001

ABC: Health Hazards Attacks Pose Continued Dangers

Sept. 12 -- "The streets are filled with toxic fumes and debris that can cause a number of medical problems for the thousands exposed. Dr. George Leikauf, professor of environmental health and pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, notes the impact of the collapse produced a cloud containing both large and small floating particles that can be very dangerous to the lungs. Large particles of cement, earth and other matter can induce breathing problems by clogging the nose and throat, and possible eye damage by scratching the cornea. Smaller particles, gases, and combustion smoke from the fire and explosions are also highly toxic, consisting of numerous irritants that may trigger airway spasms and bring on asthma attacks.
      "'People with respiratory disease, especially chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma, should stay indoors,' advises Leikauf. The American College of Chest Physicians warns that respiratory problems may just be beginning and it might only get worse. The combination of gases, asbestos, plastics and other matter floating in and around downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn may be heavy and dangerous. Dr. John Balmes, board member of the American Lung Association and pulmonary physician at San Francisco General Hospital, avidly agrees that the best advice is to stay indoors, though he recommends that if people must go outside, they should wear dust masks to avoid inhaling fine particles. If masks are unavailable, Balmes says, a damp handkerchief or bandana is the next best thing.
     "The American Lung Association further recommends that people with heart and lung problems avoid clean-up activities and any area where dust and soot are present. For those involved in clean-up work, dusty areas should be thoroughly moistened before clearing to reduce stirring up particles. Cleaners, of course, should also wear masks. The Lung Association also advises that when driving through affected areas, you should keep car windows up and air vents closed."


NYT: With City Transit Shut Down, New Yorkers Take to Eerily Empty Streets

Sept 12 -- "As if any of the passengers needed a last reminder of the surreality they had just left behind in Manhattan, in several places in New Jersey last night officials were requiring people coming from the city to be fumigated as they stepped off the ferries, possibly because of fears of asbestos or other contaminants on their clothing. In Highlands, many people coming off the ferries were shoeless: workers were hosing down their feet and shoes. But each passenger debarking in Hoboken was completely sprayed down with water. One man said he got such a thorough dousing that he was wet down to his underwear."


Reuters: Health Effects of World Trade Dust Cloud May Linger

Sept 12 (from Medscape Wire) -- "To New Yorker Doug Macron, the scene near the World Trade Center Tuesday morning was like a 'terrible snowstorm,' the sun a dim gray orb as the air 'filled with bits of dust and smoke that stung the eyes.' The cloud of choking fumes covered downtown Manhattan, coating frantic passersby in a thick film of soot as they struggled to make their way to safety...That dust -- containing everything from melted plastics, pulverized concrete, burnt jet fuel and asbestos -- may have health effects that could linger for days, weeks, even years, according to one expert. 'Anyone is potentially at risk depending on their exposure,' said Dr. Mark Siegel, an expert in pulmonary medicine at Yale School of Medicine, and director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Yale New Haven Hospital. 'A perfectly normal person close enough to the epicenter could have a profound injury to the lungs...In contrast, as you get farther and farther away, people who have underlying diseases such as emphysema, heart disease or asthma could prove to be very sensitive to relatively lower levels of exposure.'
      "At especially high risk of respiratory distress are the rescue workers. 'You've seen pictures on the news of firemen coughing, and obviously that's related to their exposure,' Dr. Siegel said. Although most of these individuals are relatively healthy and taking precautions, such as using masks and filters, he predicts that some of these individuals are 'going to have some trouble.' For those who can not leave the city temporarily, 'the best thing to do is probably stay indoors and put [the] air conditioner,' Dr. Siegel said."


NYDN: Debris & Death Drape Downtown

Sept 12 -- "Mountains of soot tore through the city's narrow downtown streets like giant tornadoes, blanketing everything in an inch or more of dust as office workers tried desperately to race ahead of the wave. Day turned into night -- and then into hell -- as the wave enveloped thousands of people. An unknown number may have suffocated. 'A lot of the vehicles are running over bodies because they are all over the place,' said Emergency Medical Service worker Louis Garcia after reports indicated that bodies were buried beneath 2 feet of soot on streets around the Trade Center. Thousands of other New Yorkers, many covered in the heavy ash that rained from the top floors of the 1,250-foot towers, stood staring in disbelief as the buildings thundered to the street. In their place rose two plumes of thick gray smoke that were visible for miles, an eerie reminder that hung in the air for hours. Firefighter's Fright Firefighter Tom Boccarossa, 43, from Engine 205, was standing right outside the building when the first tower collapsed. 'I got tossed and buried,' he said...'I crawled under a car. I couldn't see. It was totally black. I thought my life was over.'...Joel Graber had narrowly escaped the first collapse -- 'It was a black tidal wave of soot that roared down Cedar St.' -- when the second one hit...'I saw people falling down, having seizures, exploding in tears.' Carol King, who works for the city's corporation counsel at 100 Church St., had just come out of the subway when she saw a wall of soot coming toward her. 'I was blinded,' said King, who lives in Queens."



September 13, 2001

ABC: Fouled Air? Health Officials Stress Caution, But Say Measured Levels Safe

Sept. 13 -- "Despite fires and a pungent odor at the wreckage of the World Trade Center, most tests for contaminants in New York's air have not triggered alarm, health officials say."


LAT: Agonizing Search for Survivors

Sept 13 -- "Fears of gas leaks and the possibility of asbestos and other toxic substances in the soot-filled air further complicated the rescue effort. Exhausted firefighters trained their hoses on the smoldering remains of several buildings...'The air down there is totally toxic,' said Peter Coppola, 37, a searcher from Nassau County. 'You have to rinse your eyes every five minutes.' Giuliani said air quality was being tested regularly. 'The air is safe as far as we can tell,' he said...From Houston Street to the southern tip of Manhattan, a patina of gray dust coated everything: wrecked cars, the awnings of shuttered shops, mailboxes, flower boxes, the hair and clothes of police and firefighters and National Guard troops. The sky above the World Trade Center complex, streaked Tuesday with red flames and towering columns of black smoke, was marked Wednesday by gray and white smoke visible for miles."


NYT: Challenges and Dangers in Disposing of Two Fallen Giants

Sept 13 -- " Cleaning up the vast mountain of debris at the 16-acre site, all that remains of the trade center's dream after a terrorist attack on Tuesday morning, presents a challenge no less daunting than the construction itself...The same vast aggregate of steel and concrete and glass and all the assorted paints, solvents, lubricants and insulating materials of modern office buildings are still there, but they lie in a chaotic, partly burned mound after the towers' catastrophic collapse. The numbers can easily overwhelm: Strewn across Lower Manhattan, in shards and twisted piles and layers of ash, there is enough concrete to build a five-foot-wide sidewalk from New York City to Washington, D.C., enough steel to erect more than 20 Eiffel Towers, and the remnants of nearly 14 acres of glass. From the basic question of where to even put so much debris to the complex issues of chemical engineering — how the searing heat of a jet-fuel fire may have altered the composition of the building's components — the complex aftermath of the disaster has barely begun...'No building this high has ever collapsed, so there really is no comparison.' There is also deep uncertainty about what sorts of environmental hazards may be contained in the rubble. Asbestos was reportedly not used in the towers as insulating material for the steel beams. The trade center was among the first high-rise buildings to use a spray-on ceramic fire-proofing material instead, according to the National Counsel of Structural Engineers Associations, a trade group that has studied the original plans. But officials of the federal Environmental Protection Agency said yesterday that testing nonetheless showed elevated asbestos levels in the rubble, perhaps from flooring materials or other substances. Some environmental cleanup experts said yesterday that the intense heat of the fires from the jet fuel that exploded in the buildings could have produced hazardous dioxins from the incineration of PCB's that are contained in things like light fixtures. Others said exactly the opposite: that the fires might have acted as a cleansing agent, so hot that they incinerated many compounds that might otherwise pose a threat to cleanup workers. The E.P.A.'s administrator, Christie Whitman, said in a telephone interview from Washington that some chemicals that were of theoretical concern in the hours after the collapse, especially lead, which was legally used in paint in the years of the building's construction, had not been detected in quantities high enough to raise alarm. And she stressed that the asbestos levels, too, were a concern only for rescue workers and work crews who will be involved day after day directly at the site, and not for residents nearby. She said her agency would monitor the area continually during the coming months."


New Scientist: Smoke and dust threaten New Yorkers

Sept 13 -- "New Yorkers who managed to survive the attacks on the World Trade Center are at risk from the large quantities of smoke and dust that filled the air in Manhattan, say health experts. There are also fears that the twin towers' collapse may have triggered the release of carcinogenic asbestos. Authorities reportedly began "encapsulating" asbestos in the WTC 10 years ago. This involves using a sealant to prevent the fibres from being inhaled. But if asbestos remained in the building, it could have been released during the fire following the aircraft strike and during the buildings' collapse...However asbestos is believed to be a significant risk only if it is inhaled regularly over a long period of time. Of more immediate threat to human health are the clouds of smoke and dust billowing through Manhattan's streets. 'The levels of dust of the kind we are seeing in New York are a serious risk,' says Michelle De Leo of the British Lung Foundation...Small dust particles can lodge in the lungs, triggering an immune reaction that leads to scarring. 'This impairs lung function and is permanent,' De Leo says. 'Reducing exposure as much as possible is vitally important.'
     "Other environmental health experts warn that toxic fumes from burning furniture in the towers could also pose a threat. However, the aviation fuel burnt when the passenger jets exploded into the side of the towers should not cause any dangers, says Hodge. 'Aviation fuel is quite a pure fuel - it's mostly hydrocarbons - so it would have disappeared quite rapidly.'"


NYP: Rescuers up against New Peril - Asbestos

Sept 13 -- "Federal safety experts worked feverishly yesterday to protect thousands of rescuers as they stepped over smoking debris - and into a potential land mine of lung-choking asbestos and cornea-scratching silica. The asbestos level in the billowing smoke enveloping workers digging for survivors was four times the safe level, said one cop at the scene of the World Trade Center. 'There is concern regarding rescue workers and asbestos and silica (the sandy residue from demolished cement and sheet rock),' acknowledged Bill Wright, spokesman for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Organization. 'Normally, employees dealing with asbestos require eight hours of training. Obviously we can't do this here.' Wright said OSHA was sending teams of inspectors to try to guide workers through the protocol of handling the material. The federal Emergency Management Agency and Environmental Protection Agency also were testing for asbestos and dioxin. So far, three air samples showed 'minimal or low' levels of cancer-causing airborne asbestos, said EPA chief Christie Todd Whitman. But a fourth sampling sounded the alarm by detecting significant levels of the material. Mike Borello, director of an asbestos-testing firm in Midtown, said debris sampling that his firm did for several worried businesses near the site showed asbestos levels were less than 1 percent. 'The thing that surprised us was that we found fiberglass,' Borello said, adding that fiberglass may be irritating workers' eyes and throats."


NYDN: At The Pit, the Bravest Rescuers Weep and Work

Sept 13 -- "Tears streaming down his face, Fire Lt. Vincent Boura stumbled yesterday out of The Pit — and wondered if anything would ever be the same. Along with thousands of other soot-covered firefighters, Boura spent hour after exhausting hour climbing in and out of a huge hole rescuers carved into the rubble of the World Trade Center. They rappelled down 30-foot ropes as bright sunshine glinted off their helmets amid clouds of smoke. They stumbled through the debris-choked blackness that once housed stores on the twin towers concourse. They searched -- mostly in vain -- for any signs of life...
     "Ground zero of the World Trade Center looked every bit like a scene out of a war movie a day after the devastation. Piles of rubble smoldered on street corners. Giant cranes grunted under the weight of mangled beams. Pancaked cars were piled three and four high. All over, firefighters trudged with a deliberate sense of purpose. 'We've been going down there. It's just a nightmare down there,' said Howie Smith, 38, a public works employee from Mount Vernon. 'Everything is still burning..."
     "'I didn't see anyone in there,' said Boura. 'I haven't seen any survivors, nothing. Everything's in tiny, little pieces. It's pulverized.'...Inside the hotel's Manhattan Prime Restaurant, one firefighter was slumped in a chair and another trembled as he tried to light a cigarette. A soot-covered cop sat in a chair, trying to get a few winks, his arms resting on crisp white tablecloths...A stream of huge trucks ferrying smoking rubble from the scene rumbled up West St., where firefighters hosed them down. Then they headed out to an East Side depot, like some sort of bizarre, late-summer snow removal operation."


NYDN: Smoke and Stench Cannot Mask the Strength to Rebuild

Sept 13 -- "On the morning after, a dirty yellowish cloud rose from the mutilated stumps of the twin towers. It drifted east over City Hall Park and then picked up a wind and moved more quickly up Broadway. Its fine ash fell on the masked policemen, on a few lone pedestrians, on the FBI agents and on the National Guardsman in combat gear, who sat high on a Humvee at the corner of Walker St. The air smelled like scorched paint...The ash-smeared coats of these survivors wore their names: Healey, Moriarty, Heaney...In the tiny triangular park where Hudson St. meets W. Broadway, the leaves of the shrubs were coated with dusty ash, the streets were white, the sidewalk covered with a litter of exploded rental agreements, memos, jottings on memo paper...From West St., we could see more firemen pouring water on the smoldering rubble, and more rising, billowing clouds, and exhausted men gasping for air...And from the ruins, that yellow cloud, made of pain and death and religious zealotry, created by twisted minds and hardened hearts, kept rising over the city. The stench of it poisoned the air. Sirens wailed their terrible song. But that sinister cloud would not prevail."


September 14, 2001

NYT: Monitors Say Health Risk From Smoke Is Very Small

Sept 14 -- "There could be a slight health threat, they said, to city residents with weakened immune systems, heart disease or asthma, and to rescue workers who did not wear protective gear or who smoke...But over all, the danger was no greater than that on a smoggy day, some officials said. Some government scientists, speaking only on the condition of anonymity, said they were concerned that city health officials had not done more to encourage those people who were caked in the dust as the disaster unfolded to avoid spreading it around once they were safe at home. But tests of air and the dust coating parts of Lower Manhattan appeared to support the official view expressed by city, state and federal health and environmental officials: that health problems from pollution would not be one of the legacies of the attacks. Tests of air samples taken downwind of the smoldering rubble on Tuesday and Wednesday — mainly in Brooklyn — disclosed no harmful levels of asbestos, lead or toxic organic compounds, officials of the federal Environmental Protection Agency said yesterday. Some samples of the dust that cloaked the disaster scene, victims and rescuers on Tuesday showed slightly elevated levels of lead and asbestos, the agency said. But by Wednesday, levels of the substances had dropped below the threshold of any concern, said Bonnie Bellow, a spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency...The best approach for people near the attack site, experts said, would be to limit their exposure to smoke and dust as much as possible, by using filtering masks and washing coated clothing in separate loads from other laundry...Federal and city health officials said they had a stockpile of 10,000 paper-filter masks, 5,000 more-sophisticated masks able to filter the tiniest particles, and 2,000 sets of goggles on hand for rescuers to wear...Hospital officials said only a small number of people walked in complaining of breathing troubles. The first volcano-like clouds of dust and smoke from the fires and building collapses undoubtedly contained potentially harmful particles and gases, which have since dissipated, said Dr. Mark D. Siegel, the director of the medical intensive care unit at Yale-New Haven Hospital. The most visible ingredient, though — the large particles of dust and ash — was probably the least dangerous, he said. The lungs, throat and nasal passages are designed to eject large particles, like the heavy ash that coated Lower Manhattan and fell on many fleeing people, he said. But gases and the finest particles can penetrate deep in the lungs and remain behind even after extensive fits of coughing. Generally, the biggest risk posed by those substances would be to people who have a heightened sensitivity to chemicals, Dr. Siegel said. He said that one of the lowest risks would be from inhaling asbestos fibers, if any were released when the towers fell. "Even in a worst-case scenario," he said, "most people with asbestos- related lung disease usually had long-term occupational exposure."


MSNBC: Asbestos Alert How much of the chemical does the World Trade Center wreckage contain?

Sept 14 -- "The federal Environmental Protection Agency is beginning to enforce measures meant to keep the untold pollutants from spreading any further than they already have, says EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman, who maintains that the risks are negligible. Late Friday, the agency ordered to the site 16 specially equipped, truck-mounted vacuums to begin removing the white dust, which in some places has swept into dunes several inches deep. And beginning this weekend, the caravans of brimming refuse trucks that have been removing debris to dumps must be sprayed down with water and enclosed with tarpaulins before they make their way through the city...'Everything will be vacuumed that needs to be, air filters (in area buildings) will be cleaned, we’re not going to let anybody into a building that isn’t safe. And these buildings will be safe. The president has made it clear that we are to spare no expense on this one, and get this job done.' Of the 24 dust samples the agency took in the first two days of the chaos, many contained asbestos, but only one registered levels above acceptable maximums. That sample, taken from very near the epicenter of the disaster in Manhattan’s financial district, contained 4.5 percent asbestos fibers. It was taken as agents fled the collapsing buildings on Tuesday. Dust samples from Thursday, she says, also showed elevated levels of 2.1 percent to 3.3 percent. A level of 1 percent or less is considered safe...The risks to those at the epicenter, who are up to their elbows in it, can be mitigated by special filtration masks, which few people are using. Because asbestos fibers are so small, the conventional surgical masks being used by some rescuers and journalists at the blast site provide no protection against them...The risk is higher for smokers who inhale asbestos; they run about 55 times the normal risk of developing cancer...Other possible hazardous materials may have been released into the atmosphere, including freon from the towers’ massive air-conditioning units, PCBs, lead, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are a byproduct of the fires which are still smoldering. But so far, none have been detected...For the thousands of New Yorkers who lived near the World Trade Center and have been evacuated, Whitman [says]: Vacuum everything, including air-conditioning filters, and wipe all surfaces with a damp cloth."


Reuters: Safety of Breathing in Manhattan Still Uncertain

Sept 14 -- "Experts warn that people with heart ailments and respiratory problems are at some danger and should stay inside and avoid prolonged exposure to dirty air...Countless New Yorkers, police included, on Wednesday night began donning masks to filter the air as winds shifted north and choked residential areas miles from the disaster area...the pollution cleared up considerably by Thursday afternoon...New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said at press conference about two hours ago that there were no dangerous substances in the air according to tests taken during the afternoon. 'We have done air sampling the whole day. There are no indications of asbestos in the air beyond the very immediate center of the recovery effort or any other dangerous substances. That doesn't mean that if you make contact with some of this soot and dust it doesn't irritate your eyes or your throat. And if you have asthma, obviously, you should avoid it. But there are no dangerous substances in the air at least according to the tests that have been taken as recently as three or four hours ago,' Giuliani said.
      "The New York State Emergency Management Office, which is coordinating information from city and state rescue efforts, said the air is clogged with pulverized concrete, glass, and other debris as well as fumes from nearby buildings that are still smoldering. Some rescuers, sifting through the rubble in search of survivors, have wondered aloud whether they are being exposed to asbestos, a cancer-causing mineral used as insulation decades ago.
      "Joel Schwartz, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, said studies show particles from smoldering combustion are associated with increased risk of blood clots that can trigger heart attacks. 'More people will die this week in New York because of air pollution than would of died otherwise. There will be extra deaths because of the smoke,' Schwartz said. 'Air pollution is not just aesthetic, it does kill people. They should keep windows shut and turn air conditioners on.' Paul Brandt-Rauf, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, said asbestos particles would indeed be a major concern, if they are really blowing in the wind. Other than asbestos, he said his second biggest concern is burning plastics. 'Some of the worst chemicals come from the smoldering after the fire is out,' Brandt-Rauf said. 'The lower exposure you have, and the shorter the exposure, the better off you are.' He speculated people keeping at least a 10-block distance from the smoking rubble suffer little risk of harm. Rescuers are obviously at greatest risk because of their direct exposure to toxic fumes such as carbon monoxide and cyanide, and to potential carcinogens, Brandt-Rauf said. Even so, he said most rescuers are limiting their risk by wearing special filter masks and are probably not greatly endangered by the fumes."


Reuters (Planet Ark): Safety of breathing in Manhattan still up in air

Slightly different version from "Safety of Breathing in Manhattan Still Uncertain"

Sept 14 -- "So, is the air really safe? Hans Hallman, a spokesman for the New York State Emergency Management Office, said a clear answer won't be available until an analysis of air quality samples arrives perhaps later today. The agency, which is coordinating information from city and state rescue efforts, said the air is clogged with pulverized concrete, glass, and other debris as well as fumes from nearby buildings that are still smoldering. Some rescuers, sifting through the rubble in search of survivors, have wondered aloud whether they are being exposed to asbestos, a cancer-causing mineral used as insulation decades ago. Hallman said he was unsure whether asbestos was indeed present, adding that he assumed air-quality samples and other tests would soon give an authoritative answer. Asked whether the feared thousands of bodies buried in the twisted steel and concrete are a health hazard, Hallman said, "I can't even speculate on that" until better information is in hand.


FOX: Asbestos Could Have Saved WTC Lives
By the publisher of JunkScience.com. Not a particulary convincing piece; it's hard to take seriously anything that calls banning a substance responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people "hysteria." But it includes some details on the collapses I haven't seen elsewhere.

For a rebuttal to the (similar) New York Times article, see Pete Benjamin's letter.

Sept 14 -- "Until 30 years ago, asbestos was added to flame-retardant sprays used to insulate steel building materials, particularly floor supports. The insulation was intended to delay the steel from melting in the case of fire by up to four hours. In the case of the World Trade Center, emergency plans called for this four-hour window to be used to evacuate the building while helicopters sprayed to put out the fire and evacuated persons from the roof. The use of asbestos ceased in the 1970s following reports of asbestos workers becoming ill from high exposures to asbestos fibers...In 1971, New York City banned the use of asbestos in spray fireproofing. At that time, asbestos insulating material had only been sprayed up to the 64th floor of the World Trade Center towers. Other materials were substituted for asbestos.
     "The two hijacked airliners crashed into floors 96 to 103 of One World Trade Center and floors 87 to 93 of Two World Trade Center. Instead of the steel girders of the towers lasting up to four hours before melting, the steel frames of One World Trade Center lasted only one hour and forty minutes, while the steel frames of Two World Trade Center lasted just 56 minutes before collapsing."


CounterPunch: Chemical War in Manhattan (from article "Aftershocks")

Sept 14 -- "As the environmentalists are putting themselves into a state of suspended animation, the citizens of Manhattan and the thousands of volunteer rescue workers mulling through the rubble at the World Trade Center complex may well be in the whirlwind of a toxic event, which has received little media attention and almost no precautionary aid from FEMA or other federal agencies coordinating.
     "Early reports from the Environmental Protection Agency described the destruction of the World Trade complex 'an environmental catastrophe': the air of Manhattan clotted with asbestos, dioxin and other poisons. Yet, rescue workers found themselves without little more than surgical masks between their lungs and the poisons emanating from the smoldering ruins.
     "For years, the Pentagon and other terror pundits had been warning of the vulnerability of American cities to attack by biological and chemical weapons, the so-called asymmetrical warfare. These apocalyptic scenarios held that terrorist groups would unleash anthrax or sarin gas attacks in subways, water supplies or mega-office buildings, such as the World Trade Towers. Well, it turns out that the attackers didn't need to pack any chemicals, the buildings themselves proved to be quite toxic enough. The attackers used American planes as missiles and the buildings as chemical weapons.
     "Built during the height of the asbestos boom, the guts of the World Trade Center may have been one of the world's largest repositories of the carcinogenic fiber, used as insulation in the giant towers.
     "Underneath the rubble, thousands of tires continue to burn, sending plumes of pitch black smoke down the canyons of Manhattan. This smoke is contaminated with dioxins and assorted other poisons of the petrochemical age."


NYP: Asbestos in Dust from the Collapse

Sept 14 -- "Tons of dust from the mangled World Trade Center towers contain cancer-causing asbestos - and federal officials want to use Superfund money to help clean it up. Tests on debris from the wreckage show elevated levels of asbestos, federal Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Chris Paulitz said yesterday. EPA chief Christie Todd Whitman called asbestos one of the major environmental hazards stemming from the tragedy. "My main concern is that we continue to monitor dust in the air," Whitman said. "Right now, there's no immediate health threat to people outside the ground-zero area." Samples taken by The Post at the disaster scene and analyzed by an independent, certified laboratory were found to contain 1.5 percent chrysotile asbestos. One percent or less is considered to be within the normal range. Experts said the dust spewed by the collapsing skyscrapers rained down on parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Some of the deadly fibers - which are one-one-hundredth the diameter of a human hair - stayed airborne, and can remain so for months. 'It is dangerous,' said Howard Bader, of H.A. Bader Consultants, an asbestos-removal firm. While Whitman said only one sample in two dozen showed levels higher than 1 percent, Bader insisted, 'Having less than 1 percent doesn't mean it's safe.' The higher-than-normal EPA sample, taken from a car near the attack site, registered 4.5 percent. Some EPA workers spent yesterday hosing down areas heavily coated with chalky film left over from the disaster. One of the more common diseases caused by exposure to asbestos is mesotheliomia. 'Mesothelioma attacks the stomach and lung linings,' Bader said. 'High exposure is not required.' Bader said the airborne fibers are the most dangerous. 'Asbestos can travel miles in the wind,' he said. 'They are finding debris in Coney Island and Breezy Point.'"


MSNBC: Cloud of acrid air haunts New Yorkers Many concerned about potential health woes

Sept 14 -- "'I can still smell the smoke days afterwards,' says Valerie Lee, a supervisor for District Council 37, a union representing state and city workers, who fled her office a block from the World Trade Center after the second tower collapsed before her eyes. She ran north for blocks, she says, as the smoke, 'seemed to follow us like the ash of a volcano erupting, like a bad science fiction movie.'...'Depending on currents, the air seems smoky here in Brooklyn,' reports Regan Heiserman...'The smokiness comes and goes. I can’t help but thinking I’m breathing in air from a crematorium.'
     "Days after the tragedy, the dust from mountains of ash continued to drift up and down the island as well as to other boroughs. Air samples taken a mile from the scene, in Brooklyn, turned up no hazards -- leads, asbestos or other volatile chemicals, according to Environmental Protection Agency officials. However, tests of soil in the immediate vicinity of the World Trade Center did show elevated levels of asbestos in one of four soil and debris samples, according to Chris Paulitz of EPA...Rain has washed away some of the heavy particulates in the air, he adds.
     "Rescue workers digging amidst ever smoldering fires, of course, face the most immediate dangers. Gas masks and respirators are helping to protect them against exposure to carbon monoxide, cyanide and other toxic substances, says Dr. E. Neil Schachter, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Immediate residents, too, are at risk from toxic soot as well as dust and other physical dangers, such as unstable foundations.
     "Even days after the initial cloud of dust kicked up by the explosion, air quality is a concern, especially for those already predisposed to respiratory ailments, says Dr. Mark Siegel, an assistant professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. The huge plumes of smoke from so colossal an explosion sent 'scores, hundreds of substances floating into the air,' he says, from pulverized concrete to burning plastics and dust. All of these can exacerbate asthma, emphysema and other ailments already aggravated by the ragweed, pollen and mold that come with the fall season.
     "The sheer mass of the collapsed buildings is a problem, says Hans Hallman, a community affairs specialist at the New York State Emergency Management Office. More than 15 million square feet of office space was crushed into dust. One estimate for the twin towers of the World Trade Center is 500,000 tons of material. Much of the most toxic residue from jet fuel and burning plastic, because of fortunate weather patterns, blew out to sea, he says. Nevertheless a mountain remains 'of plastic, glass and concrete' turned to dust that “they’ve been watering down to keep from getting into the air,” says Hallman."


CNN: CDC, EPA: Little risk to public from sites

Sept 14 -- "[Dave Deegan, an EPA spokesman] cautioned that workers in the disaster site should continue using dust masks and respirators and keeping the debris wet to reduce particulates in the air. 'For people who have respiratory problems, it definitely is a concern,' Deegan said. 'It can trigger an asthma attack.' He wasn't sure if there has been much analysis of the site to see if hazardous materials are present, saying 'the first order of business is simply to see if there are any lives that can still be saved.'"


NYDN: A Fight vs. Steel, Despair & Weather Rescuers press on valiantly, despite odds

Sept 14 -- "In the orange glow and choking smoke of stubborn fires in the steel and concrete chaos that was once the World Trade Center, rescue workers raced last night to pull bodies out before rain made the job even more dangerous. A light rain could help clear some of the thick dust hanging in the air. A downpour would turn debris at ground zero to mud and force crews to stop...Many crews, their eyes glued shut by dust, had torn off fingernails digging with their hands. A veterinarian at St. Vincent's Medical Center treated some of the dogs who tried to sniff out bodies. They had cut their paws on the steel and glass and needed oxygen...Despite the danger, thousands of construction workers and firefighters from as far as North Carolina climbed down into the dangerous wreckage...
     "'There's still a lot of fire in there,' Firefighter Cyrus Boyle said...To reach one void, Boyle said, workers 'had to clear out the dirt by hand,' sticking rubble in white 5-gallon pails and passing them back in a bucket brigade to investigators sifting the debris for evidence. The Pit, after all, was an active crime scene...The harsh, electric odor of burned rubber and plastic filled the air. Everywhere, workers breathed through masks until it got too hot to bear...In the streets around ground zero, the coating of dust and ash became a medium for prayers and defiance. On a red Honda sedan, its roof twisted by debris, someone wrote 'We won't forget' on the windshield, and 'New York will stand steadfast' on the passenger side...
     "Throughout the day, Verizon crews drove through the neighborhood trying to remove debris from manholes so they could go underground and check telecommunications cables. Falling girders had pierced the company's office on Water St., filling switching equipment with dust and flooding cable bundles in the basement...On the Battery Park City Esplanade in the morning, a solitary firefighter dug his shovel into an ankle-deep slurry of water, soot and partially burned paper. He pushed along the glass wall, trying to find an open drain. The ooze closed in behind him...Despite security efforts, some curious onlookers reached the neighborhood."


September 15, 2001

Natural Health Line: The World Trade Center Attack: Will the Environmental Impacts Harm Even More?
Excellent review of articles written on the topic up to September 15th.

Sept 15 -- "The destruction of the World Trade Center killed thousands of people outright but the danger may not be over for additional numbers of people because of exposure to tons of asbestos and other toxic substances that the buildings' collapse released into the environment. The mineral asbestos is one of the most toxic and carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, substances...Within 24 hours of the twin towers' collapse on Tuesday morning September 11, media reports began to mention the degraded air quality from thousands of tons of debris and smoke that was released into the atmosphere, coating streets, people, cars, and surrounding buildings and being dispersed into the air and brought back down to earth miles away by winds. Photos taken at both ground zero and from miles away - even from satellites and the orbiting space station - clearly showed the plumes of steadily rising smoke and debris. Residents of midtown Manhattan, six or more miles north of ground zero, reported strange odors including a burning or electrical smell in the air.
   "Possible Preventive Nutritional Solutions According to Kathi Head, ND, senior editor of Alternative Medicine Review, certain nutritional supplements can protect against exposure to asbestos. Head notes, 'Glutathione, a critical aspect of the body's own antioxidant defense system, is important for detoxifying asbestos and making it not create the oxidative stress that goes on to cause cancer. One of the things that can increase glutathione levels is N-acetylcysteine. Other possible supplements to consider, which also increase glutathione levels, are lipoic acid, vitamins C and E, and glutamine.' Head referenced several studies from the scientific literature to support her point. For example, the study from last year, 'N-acetyl L-cysteine attenuates oxidant-mediated toxicity induced by chrysotile fibers' by Afaq F, Abidi P, Rahman Q. (Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Post Box No. 80, M.G. Marg, 226001, Lucknow, India. rxa48@po.cwru.edu) published in Toxicol Lett 2000 Sep 30;117(1-2):53-60. From the abstract, 'Chrysotile, an important commercial variety of asbestos, is known to cause oxidative stress by enhancing production of hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), depleting glutathione (GSH) and altering levels of GSH redox system enzymes. N-acetyl L-cysteine (NAC), a compound that increases GSH levels, protects cells against chrysotile toxicity. . .In this preliminary study it appears that NAC may be protecting cells against oxidative damage. This protection may be due to its ability to maintain intracellular GSH/oxidative scavenging capability.'
     "Citing another study, Head pointed out that 'certain flavonoids - including those from green tea - may be beneficial in preventing asbestos-associated disease - especially if they are complexed with minerals such as copper or zinc.' The reference: 'Influence of metal ions on flavonoid protection against asbestos-induced cell injury' by Kostyuk VA, Potapovich AI, Vladykovskaya EN, Korkina LG, Afanas'ev IB (Laboratory of Bioenergetics, Byelorussian State University, Minsk, Belarus. kostyuka@bio.bsu.unibel.by) in Arch Biochem Biophys 2001 Jan 1;385(1):129-137. Abstract: 'Influence of metal ions (Fe2+, Fe3+, Cu2+, Zn2+) on the protective effect of rutin, dihydroquercetin, and green tea epicatechins against in vitro asbestos-induced cell injury was studied. . .The results show that flavonoid metal complexes may be effective therapy for the inflammatory response associated with the inhalation of asbestos fiber. The advantage of their application could be the strong increase in ROS scavenging by flavonoids and finally a better cell protection under the conditions of cellularoxidative stress.'
     "Two more studies on green tea extracts and asbestos were found: 'Protective effects of green tea catechins against asbestos-induced cell injury' by Kostyuk VA, Potapovich AI, Vladykovskaya EN, Hiramatsu M. in Planta Med 2000 Dec;66(8):762-764. 'Green tea extract was found to provide a strong protective effect against asbestos-induced injury of peritoneal macrophages and red blood cells in vitro.' 'Inhibitory effect of green tea extract on the carcinogenesis induced by asbestos plus benzo(a)pyrene in rat' by Luo SQ, Liu XZ, Wang CJ (Department of Occupational Health, School of Public Health, West China University of Medical Sciences, Chengdu) in Biomed Environ Sci 1995 Mar;8(1):54-58. 'In this experiment lung carcinoma was induced by crocidolite plus benzo(a)pyrene in rat. From the cancer models, we observed that the incidence (16.0%) of lung carcinomas was lower, and the survival time (376 days) of the first case of carcinoma and the mean survival time (758 days) of the rats with carcinoma were higher in the group of rats drinking 2% green tea extract for life than in the positive group (without drinking green tea extract).'"


Globe & Mail: 'That's a major, major toxic soup'

Sept 15 -- "Initially, the pair of jetliners that crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center created thick black smoke. After the buildings collapsed, the smog went from white to yellow before it settled into a greyish, acrid, dusty haze that may spell a long-term public-health disaster. Those who escaped the explosions, fires, stampeding masses and falling debris are still not completely safe...Added Barbara MacKinnon, director of environmental research at the New Brunswick Lung Association: 'Beyond all the other stuff -- the people who died in the buildings and on the planes -- one of my first thoughts was: That's a major, major toxic soup. . . . People are breathing some nasty stuff.'...The smouldering rubble is a vast aggregate of metal, concrete and glass, mixed with slowly burning paints, solvents, lubricants, insulation, wiring, office furniture, vehicles and decomposing bodies, which could pose a number of risks, including lung problems and communicable diseases. The two 110-storey buildings were full of every imaginable type of building material and office equipment, much of it ignited by burning jet fuel and some of it burning slowly for days.
     "It is impossible to conceive of the volume and complexity of the toxins that have been produced. 'PVC [polyvinyl chloride] is the plastic sheathing on electrical wiring. When it burns, 75 known carcinogens are released,' said Catherine Coppin of MLT Mobile Lung Testing Ltd. in Vancouver. 'That's just one individual product, and there were thousands of them burning.' Coppin, who trains firefighters on the risks they face on the job, said the general public has no idea just how toxic common household items and office furnishings can be when set ablaze. 'Just look around your office and start imagining the things that can catch fire. Cellphones, photocopiers, computers, desks, lights, wiring, carpets. It's all great stuff -- except when it's burning, when it's poison,' she said.
      "As it is, firefighting is one of the most dangerous jobs there is because of the toxic fumes contained in the smoke of burning buildings. Firefighters have some of the highest rates of cancer and heart disease, much of it attributed to exposure to poisons. In the case of the World Trade Center, the risks are multiplied a hundred-fold. The towers also had generators containing dangerous chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls, and significant amounts of asbestos. When the twin towers were built in the late 1960s and early 1970s, they became among the first high-rises to use spray-on ceramic fireproofing instead of asbestos as insulating material. But the fibrous matter, which can cause serious lung disease, was still used in flooring materials. The buildings were also constructed in an era when lead-based paints were used, and lead can also be toxic when burned. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has done preliminary testing of the air around the site of the disaster, and found traces of asbestos, lead and organic compounds in the air, but deemed them to be at acceptable levels. Nevertheless, Tina Kreisher, a spokeswoman for the EPA, said the agency is urging caution. 'It's one of those cases of don't be stupid. If there's a chance, why not put on a mask?' Virtually all rescue workers are doing so, as are journalists on the site. However, while paper masks can protect people from irritating but largely harmless particles, they cannot shield wearers from chemical exposure. The optimists have speculated that the high temperatures caused by burning jet fuel -- estimated at more than 1,000 degrees -- may have burned off the most dangerous chemicals, and rendered them harmless. But MacKinnon said no one really knows what is in the air at any given time. There is much smouldering rubble, and little fires flare up each time cleanup crews move material and fuel hot spots with oxygen. In addition, the constant coming and going of construction vehicles and the relentless cleanup -- which has resulted in tens of thousands of tonnes of material being moved -- creates clouds of dust...
     "She said rescue workers are definitely at the greatest health risk. 'I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of them have long-term health effects.' Many of them are already reporting breathing difficulties, as well as eye injuries such as scratched corneas. But anyone with pre-existing respiratory problems such as asthma, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder is also at risk from the fires and demolition work. New York health officials have recommended that asthmatics and people with other breathing problems stay indoors and keep the windows closed. New Yorkers are also being urged to keep their air conditioners off because they can draw in particles from the outdoors. 'There are a lot of unknowns here, but even an ill-informed person can figure out pretty quickly that you don't want to be breathing the air near the site of the disaster, MacKinnon said."


September 16, 2001

Newsday: TERRORIST ATTACKS /Asbestos Targeted In Cleanup Effort

Sept 16 -- "Hundreds of asbestos cleanup workers representing more than a dozen local unions and several contractors continued the massive and delicate task of removing the contaminant yesterday from buildings damaged by the collapse of the World Trade Center...After taking readings from as far away as Brooklyn and New Jersey, the EPA is concentrating on a 10-block area surrounding ground zero, with help from 24-hour air monitors. [Christine Todd Whitman, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] said she is concerned about any reading above 1 percent. Generally, asbestos-related disease arises only from prolonged exposure, although there is no level of exposure that is known with certainty to be safe. Nonetheless, some building owners themselves have hired companies to clean up the dust and debris blown into their buildings, treating the material as asbestos. LVI Services Inc., based in Manhattan, the largest abatement and environmental cleanup company in the country, according to its president Burton T. Fried, has been hired by Verizon to clean its headquarters next to the World Trade Center site. He said he expects his company to clean other nearby buildings also contaminated with asbestos but declined to name which ones. While levels are generally low in the area and in buildings, strict removal procedures are being followed, Fried said. 'We have responded in other cases of disaster and can work in trying situations,' Fried said yesterday. 'We're addressing this situation with care. We have trained labor who have all the permits and know all the proper techniques for doing this kind of work . . . There is no substitute for manpower in this kind of work.' Fried said LVI was hired to clean up asbestos-contaminated buildings damaged by Hurricane Hugo, and during both the Bay Area and Los Angeles earthquakes. In most cases, the buildings are first sealed. Compressors then create negative air pressure so no dust escapes. Workers primarily use vacuum cleaners with special filters and disposable cloths to wipe the area clean of asbestos. Fried said his company hires an independent laboratory to test the work area for asbestos before and after the cleanup. In addition, the building owners as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conduct their own tests to verify results. Workers are supposed to wear sealed suits and respirators and get decontaminated before exiting the work area. The abatement workers' progress, like that of the rescue workers, has been occasionally hampered by the threat of collapsing buildings and shifting debris, said David Roscow, spokesman for Laborers' International Union of North America, the umbrella organization of the local unions. 'For some, it's a situation they've never been in,'...Whitman said the EPA has also been monitoring the harbor water and drinking water for lead and industrial contaminants, but no pollutants have been detected. In the future, she said, samples will probably also be taken from the tunnels, such as the Holland and Battery, through which debris has been transported."


September 17, 2001

Reuters (Planet Ark): UPDATE: Safety of breathing in Manhattan still uncertain
Updated version of "Safety of breathing in Manhattan still up in air"
Identical to "Safety of breathing in Manhattan still uncertain"

Sept 17 -- "Experts warn that people with heart ailments and respiratory problems are at some danger and should stay inside and avoid prolonged exposure to dirty air."


NYDN: Lower Manhattan Goes Back on the Job Today: Stock exchange, many businesses will reopen

Sept 17 -- "Six days after a terror attack leveled the World Trade Center and sent thousands running for their lives, the refugees return today to a lower Manhattan that many of them will barely recognize. Millions of commuters are expected to pour across the open bridges, flood through the available tunnels, crowd the downtown subways and board the ferries into Manhattan. The hundreds of law firms, financial services, restaurants and retailers that have been closed since the catastrophe will raise their shutters and unlock the cash registers. Wall Street reopens, too, after an unprecedented closure. City workers will return to City Hall. And the court system will return to the business of dispensing justice...But the returnees will find a city under siege. Workers will be barred from Ground Zero by legions of police officers. Dozens of streets will be blocked off by police barricades and checkpoints. Cops and National Guardsmen wearing surgical masks will be demanding identification and checking bags. Commuters passing through bridges and tunnels into the city also will face extra time-consuming scrutiny...For those returning to the city from the suburbs, the first jarring reminder that this is a city transformed will be the great gap and the smoke still flowing forth from where one of the city's most familiar landmarks used to be. The second will be the acrid smell of destruction that still hovers over parts of the Financial District, and the gray dust from the pulverized concrete that still blankets large swaths of the streets. As Wall Street, the nation's financial engine, reopens, it will not be firing on all cylinders. The dust-covered American Stock Exchange offices will remain closed because it doesn't have water or power, and air units are clogged with soot...
     "Hundreds of shopkeepers and small business owners cleaned up their storefronts and made preparations...Outside the Tandoor Palace on Fulton St., two young workers stood outside weeping. Owner Ajit Singh was inside, surveying his dust-covered tables...There was another clear sign that life was returning to some semblance of normality -- the tourists returned. Hundreds pressed against the police barricades at Washington Market Park and watched the smoke rising from the remains of World Trade Center Building 7, the last structure in the complex to fall,"


September 18, 2001

NYT: HAUNTING QUESTION: Did the Ban on Asbestos Lead to Loss of Life?

For a rebuttal to this article, see Pete Benjamin's letter.

Sept 18 -- "Anticipating a ban, the builders stopped using the materials by the time they reached the 40th floor of the north tower, the first one to go up...Asbestos, a fibrous, silicate mineral, was highly prized as a fireproofing component because of its high melting point and its resistance to chemical breakdown. It also conducts little heat and its fibers create strong, supple materials. The question haunts those engineers and scientists, but not because they think asbestos insulation might have ultimately preserved the towers' steel beams and trusses, which buckled in Tuesday's infernos, causing the towers to collapse. Virtually as one, experts on the development, testing and use of fireproofing materials say no standard treatment of the steel, asbestos or otherwise, could have averted the collapse of the towers in the extraordinarily hot and violent blaze. But some wonder whether asbestos insulation might have kept the towers intact long enough for more people to have escaped.
     "When it came to fireproofing, the Port Authority at first turned to a mixture containing about 20 percent asbestos that was sprayed onto steel beams, where it dried and formed an insulating layer intended to keep the temperature of the steel from rising above 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. Steel loses about 50 percent of its strength at that temperature, and can begin to buckle under the load of a building...The fireproofing material was manufactured by United States Mineral Products of Stanhope, N.J., under the trade name Blaze-Shield...About 65 percent was 'mineral wool' — essentially rock that was melted and spun into fibers -- bound together by cementlike components. But as the steel skeleton of the towers began to rise, cancer studies by Dr. Irving J. Selikoff, then director of the environmental sciences laboratory at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, were signaling the beginning of the end for asbestos. Tests that showed asbestos from construction sites was being blown into the air sealed its fate. In 1969, Mr. Tozzoli said, the Port Authority decided to switch to a substitute fireproofing not containing asbestos; the city banned the substance in construction in 1971. The project again turned to United States Mineral, which had developed a new product — also called Blaze-Shield — with the asbestos removed.
     "In addition, more than half of the original, asbestos- containing material was later replaced, said Allen Morrison, a spokesman for the Port Authority. Mr. Verhalen said the new product essentially contained more mineral wool and binders, but no asbestos. 'The fire tests at Underwriters Laboratories produced the same fire resistance as the asbestos-containing products,' Mr. Verhalen said. Port Authority had the same results. 'We tested the hell out of it,' said Mr. Tozzoli...The lack of asbestos fireproofing, he said, 'had nothing to do with the collapse of the building.'
     "But Dr. Landrigan, a medical doctor whose formal title is chairman of the department of community and preventive medicine, said he was satisfied with research showing that the replacements were as good as those containing asbestos. And he said Dr. Selikoff's work had suggested that hundreds of thousands of people had died of cancer because of exposure to asbestos."


Nando Times: Dust from World Trade Center collapse tested for health effects

Sept 18 -- "One day after the attack on the World Trade Center, researchers collected 13 vials of undisturbed dust from the acres of gray soot blanketing Lower Manhattan. Those samples will be analyzed as part of a study into the health of rescue workers, survivors and others who inhaled the pulverized remains of the twin towers...The Environmental Protection Agency has downplayed the threat posed by one much-feared pollutant, asbestos. But scientists caution that they still don't know how dangerous the dust is. 'I honestly don't know what's in there,' said Christopher Portier, director of environmental toxicology at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park. Portier wrote a list of 200 dangerous compounds that could have been created by the fire and collapse.
     "Immediately after the bombing, Portier and other experts in toxic substances saw a need to get pure samples of whatever was caked on cars, sidewalks and buildings in New York. Wednesday morning, Portier called Max Costa, chairman of environmental medicine at New York University Medical Center. They decided to dispatch a research team to the wreckage of the trade center...He wrote a terse letter explaining his charge from Portier and gave it to his research technician, Martin Blaustein. Blaustein and four graduate students drove from NYU's research center in Tuxedo, N.Y., to the city. They parked their car then made their way on foot downtown, displaying the letter from Costa whenever a police officer questioned them...
     "By Wednesday evening, they had returned to Tuxedo with 13 bottles of dust, each containing 100 to 500 grams (about 3.5 to 18 ounces). Blaustein said the substance resembles finely ground newsprint. Costa and researchers at other institutions will analyze the dust and potentially use it in animal experiments. Costa said he's most concerned about chemicals released from the fire, rather than the asbestos. Although the larger airborne particles have caused much of the coughing and eye-stinging suffered by rescue workers and survivors, the finer soot could cause more lasting damage because it's inhaled deep in the lungs. 'I have no idea what we're going to find,' Costa said. 'People have not really studied dust from blown-up buildings.'"


NYP: N.Y. Can Breathe Free
Misleading and dangerous article! Contradicts even their own articles from a few days ago. Do not follow this bad advice!

Sept 18 -- "Experts feared serious air-quality problems, but they now say the general public can breathe easy - there is little threat of any lingering health hazards. 'We anticipated a big problem,' said Dr. Gillian Shepherd, an allergy-immunology specialist at Weill Cornell Medical Center-New York Presbyterian Hospital. 'But thank heavens, it didn't happen.' [Note: it takes a while for effects of chemical injury to show up, and asbestos damage can take decades]
     "Of top concern was asbestos...But the city's Board of Health said its readings showed there was very little asbestos in the air. Besides, said Dr. Murray Rogers, chief of pulmonology at Lenox Hill Hospital, 'with asbestos, you need a lot of exposure over a long period of time before you suffer any adverse effect. This didn't happen. The area was evacuated and those large particles fell to the ground. Then the rain washed the air.' [Note: completely untrue on all counts]
     "Rogers said a bigger threat was posed by hot fumes that may have harmed victims' lungs and tracheae. 'Certainly, older people, people with chronic lung disease and young children [who have immature lungs] were more susceptible on Tuesday to whatever particulates were in the air. But the danger now has passed.' Still, many people were left choking and gasping for air.
     "The best remedy, said the experts, is to drink lots of water. 'Eight glasses a day,' recommended Rogers. 'Lungs are supposed to be soft, supple and moist, and hydrating yourself will keep them from getting dry.' [Note: I agree with this]
     "Of course, those aiding in the rescue effort need to take every precaution to protect themselves, Rogers said. That includes wearing masks at all times and changing them when necessary, since filters are effective only so long. [Note: Yes!] Rescuers working at the site should launder their clothing well to keep from spreading the dust. [Note: No no no!!!!! Do not wash your contaminated clothes, throw them away in sealed plastic bags]
     "Rogers said people who are more susceptible to pollution in general - those who have emphysema or asthma - may want to see their doctors if they're feeling ill or are coughing more than usual. In some cases, he said, people may be suffering psychosomatic symptoms triggered by Tuesday's trauma. [Note: how dare they?!] But he added, 'Don't readily discount any coughing or anything else as psychosomatic. If you're feeling ill, see a doctor, if only to set your mind at ease.'
     "If people seem to be sneezing and coughing more this week, it has less to do with the World Trade Towers disaster and more to do with the time of the year, said Shepherd. 'I was just looking at today's pollen counts,' she said yesterday, 'and they're more than 5,000 per cubic meter of air, a distance of about 3 feet. There are usually only a few hundred grains of pollen, and any of it, landing on the nose, will induce an allergic reaction.'"


NYT: Anguish and Frustration for Doctors With No One to Treat

Sept 18 -- "Dr. Sandeep Jauhar: The smoke was even more oppressive the second day. By then our triage center had moved closer to ground zero and the search was on for survivors. When I arrived on Tuesday afternoon, the streets downtown were deserted. The sickening stench of burned plastic permeated the air. Bombed-out cars, coated with an inch of cement dust and ash, lined the muddy streets. The ground was strewn with paper and abandoned shoes, as if people had literally vanished in their tracks."


NYT: Dust Is a Problem, but the Risk Seems Small

Sept 18 -- "Low levels of asbestos were detected in some dust and debris close to the wreckage of the World Trade Center, the officials said, but there was no evidence of danger, except to search crews moving the rubble...As an extra precaution, officials recommended that businesses in the area clean the filters on air-conditioners and use vacuum cleaners equipped with filters for fine particles -- those labeled HEPA -- to avoid scattering any hazardous dust. Officials recommended similar precautions for apartment dwellers, saying they should use vacuums with particle filters, mop floors and use wet cloths to dust, and wash clothing soiled by the ash and dust separately from other laundry. Over all, though, officials said, the only significant health risk remained near the destruction. Workers there should wear masks and protective gear and clean their shoes before heading home, they said. Some officials expressed frustration because many of the workers -- most of them hard-bitten construction workers -- were ignoring their recommendations. 'In the early hours of a rescue, the urgency of these efforts leads people to forget their own health and safety,' said Dr. Neal L. Cohen, New York City's health commissioner. The city will add more safety officials to its teams this week, he said, to make sure that more searchers wear protective attire. Tina Kreisher, a spokeswoman for the E.P.A., said that ample gear was available at the attack site but that because of the heat and stress, workers commonly refused it. 'There are small pockets of asbestos,' Ms. Kreisher said. 'The concern is there — not for the city, not for residents, but definitely for these workers.' Many workers may be there for months, she said. Federal officials said they would set up at the site equipment able to clean 1,500 workers twice a day.
     "Agency officials and independent experts tried to quell rumors about other hazards, including the possibility that the fires might have turned freon from air-conditioners into a poisonous gas called phosgene. The chemical reaction that generates phosgene is possible in extremely hot flames, but not in fires like those still burning, agency officials said. Any gas generated by the initial inferno has dissipated, they said. When rescue crews prepare to enter buried pockets where survivors might be found, they generally test the air for organic compounds like freon, which can be suffocating because it is heavier than air and can build up in pockets, officials said. Suspect air samples are sent to a mobile laboratory for analysis. Dr. Cohen said that continual monitoring of the crash site and rubble with Geiger counters had turned up no evidence of radiation, which might be emitted, for example, from medical X-ray equipment destroyed in the attacks...Many dust samples collected near the attack site last week contained 1 percent to 2 percent asbestos, agency officials said. That concentration is not high enough to create a short-term risk of lung disease, the officials said. Nonetheless, the agency sent 10 trucks into the area over the weekend equipped with filtered vacuums that suck up contaminants without spreading them.
     "Over the weekend the Environmental Protection Agency parked five air sampling systems near the crash site and put another one on Canal Street to monitor any drift uptown. The systems will measure asbestos, lead, PCB's and other harmful compounds during the cleanup, agency officials said. Other samples were being taken at established pollution monitoring stations in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn...'People who live in Lower Manhattan and who work there are certainly going to be exposed to dust,' he said. The dust, from pulverized building materials, could cause bronchitis or asthma attacks in children or vulnerable adults, [Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, the chairman of the department of community and preventive medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine] said."


NO: Dust from World Trade Center collapse tested for health effects

Sept 18 -- "One day after the attack on the World Trade Center, researchers collected 13 vials of undisturbed dust from the acres of gray soot blanketing Lower Manhattan. Those samples will be analyzed as part of a study into the health of rescue workers, survivors and others who inhaled the pulverized remains of the twin towers. Thousands of New Yorkers have already donned dust masks and respirators out of fear that toxic substances from the debris are coating people's lungs. The Environmental Protection Agency has downplayed the threat posed by one much-feared pollutant, asbestos. But scientists caution that they still don't know how dangerous the dust is. 'I honestly don't know what's in there,' said Christopher Portier, director of environmental toxicology at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park. Portier wrote a list of 200 dangerous compounds that could have been created by the fire and collapse. But without more information, he wouldn't speculate on whether the dust would eventually add to the toll of dead and wounded. The institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, investigates a wide variety of environmental health threats and supports research at universities and hospitals nationwide. Immediately after the bombing, Portier and other experts in toxic substances saw a need to get pure samples of whatever was caked on cars, sidewalks and buildings in New York. Wednesday morning, Portier called Max Costa, chairman of environmental medicine at New York University Medical Center. They decided to dispatch a research team to the wreckage of the trade center...Costa said he's most concerned about chemicals released from the fire, rather than the asbestos. Although the larger airborne particles have caused much of the coughing and eye-stinging suffered by rescue workers and survivors, the finer soot could cause more lasting damage because it's inhaled deep in the lungs."


September 19:

BBC: New York health fears

Sept 19 -- "[E]xperts now warn that some people may have been exposed to gases and other substances in the air, which could have long-term effects on their health. There are also concerns that the safety of the water supply could be compromised...Whilst federal health officials have provided 10,000 paper filter masks, 5,000 sophisticated masks and 2,000 sets of goggles [for the rescue workers], they have also reassured that the cloud of smoke that permeates New York does not provide an immediate health threat to the city's people. However, independent experts remain cautious, claiming that with so many substances present both in the buildings and the planes that crashed into them, it is hard to assess the long-term health effects.
     "Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, atmospheric chemistry expert Kimberly Prather of UC San Diego, commented: 'There is such a mix - jet fuel, the dust from the buildings and the cement, burning electronics, all the wires and the melting pipes - you have to be worried.' ...The fires, which reached a temperature of up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, produced a large number of potentially dangerous substances. Burning aviation fuel gives off several toxic chemicals that can damage lungs and, in the long-term, induce cancers, as do many plastics.
     "Asbestos Fears have also been voiced concerning the levels of asbestos that were present in the World Trade Centre buildings. Asbestos's high melting point meant that it was commonly used to fireproof steel beams in the construction industry...Officials have said that dust samples tested at the site have shown low levels of asbestos which in themselves do not pose any health risks. But perhaps the most dangerous substance of all though are particulates - tiny specks of dust produced by all kinds of material when it burns.
     "At present there is no way of knowing how many people have suffered long-term damage; but the greater the exposure, the higher the risk. Whilst residents and workers in the area have been advised to vacuum their properties with cleaners that contain filters and to wipe surfaces clean, it is the rescuers, rescued and those people who already had lung diseases that doctors will focus their attentions on. Provisions have been made for those dealing with the devastation on a daily basis. Rescue workers have been warned of the dangers of HIV infection from blood, environmental agencies are continually monitoring the air quality and although protective wear has been issued to rescue workers, some have chosen not to wear it claiming that the conditions at the scene are too hot and sweaty.
     "The other potential hazard is the drinking water supply. Groundwater seeping down through the rubble can take bacteria from decaying bodies into damaged, cracked pipes. Contaminated drinking water is typically responsible for a large proportion of deaths following disasters in the poorest parts of the world, although experts believe that New York's infrastructure is sound enough not to be a problem here."
     Side Bar: "Gas fears: Amidst the skyscrapers' 1.25 million tons of debris, there are air pockets. Each time rescue workers enter them in the hope of finding survivors they have been advised to test the air for suffocating gases. One initial fear was that the fires might have turned a compound called freon from the air-conditioners into a poisonous gas called phosgene. Experts now believe that any such gases caused by the inferno will have dispersed."


NYDN: Job Is Back-Breaking, Heartbreaking for Heroes

Sept 19 -- "I was among the reporters who managed to make it to what we all now sadly call Ground Zero. On the day the World Trade Center collapsed, I had watched as the search-and-rescue teams began carrying out their urgent tasks. Two days later I returned to the hellish landscape hoping to document the unearthing of a survivor, but the only ones rescued were the injured and exhausted rescuers themselves. As evening ebbed into night, I saw the human lines that stretched over the rubble field dwindle at times as crews grew wearier and needed longer breaks. Volunteering was not something I had set out to do, unlike the legions of ironworkers and tradesmen who flooded the bombed-out area. As journalists, we are expected to remain detached, coolly observing events instead of intervening in them. But like any able-bodied American, I grew to feel that I could help -- and should help. I grabbed a pair of work gloves and a hardhat from a Red Cross station and made my way across the sea of I-beams to a line of men that stretched dangerously thin -- with firefighters and construction workers in spots having to gingerly step over several soot-covered girders to hand off hundred-pound chunks of sawed-up metal. I filled a hole in a stretch of the bucket brigade, standing alongside a cop from Hoboken, N.J., a bail agent, several construction workers and dozens of firefighters from Mount Vernon and other suburbs...Unlike the heavy scraps of metal, the buckets were mostly light, filled with the throat-burning grit that was the pulverized remains of the twin towers...No backhoes or other heavy machinery were able to get to the area where we were toiling. The rescue work was the utter meaning of painstaking: piece by metal piece, bucket by ash-laden bucket. I stood on one of more than a dozen lines formed by rescue workers that snaked over the wreckage. At the head of it, firefighters and metal workers used shovels and welding torches to dig their way down several feet below the girders to the top of a fire truck...When I returned to the inverted crater that was the World Trade Center, I learned that a New York battalion chief had ordered his firefighters not to let anyone back onto the rubble to staff the lines. The area had been sealed to volunteers. It was a few minutes before 1 a.m., and as I collapsed on a girder, drops of rain began to dampen the gray ash and tornadoes of strewn paper and dust clouds swirled through the ruins. Soon the drops turned into a torrent of rain.
     "As I stared at the smoldering heap of New York's once-mighty towers, I said a prayer for all those who perished in the collapse. Then I prayed for the rescue workers -- many of them battle-worn firefighters who neglected to wear masks -- for they were still risking their lives and their health in hopes of saving someone, even just one person."


NYDN: Sad and Slow Sifting Tons of wreckage scrutinized at S.I. landfill

Sept 19 -- "A day after terrorists knocked down the World Trade Center, the remains of the mighty giant began arriving at what will be their final resting place -- the former city dump. About 130 acres of the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island were set aside for the glass, steel and concrete of what once was the crown jewel of the Manhattan skyline. Four hundred city detectives, FBI agents, National Guardsmen and federal investigators were dispatched to the dump to deconstruct the destruction -- find the elusive voice data recorders and other evidence, recover body parts...So far, nearly 50,000 tons of debris have been transported by city dump trucks to the landfill -- a slim percentage of the 1 million total tons still spread through Ground Zero, said Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik...
     "Divided into groups of 12 and wearing respirators, hardhats and white protective suits, the workers attacked the smoldering rubble with pitchforks and rakes."


September 20:

NYT: For Asthmatic Children, an Extra Health Burden

Sept 20 -- "As late summer winds blow smoke from last week's attack around the city, many people with asthma, or any history of the condition, have been complaining about an increased difficulty in breathing, some of them going to emergency rooms in hospitals around town. Since the attack on the World Trade Center, the Children's Aid Society, one of the 10 agencies supported by The New York Times 9/11 Neediest Fund, has reported at least five cases in which people with asthma needed emergency-room attention, and many others have visited the agency's clinics for checkups and extra medication. 'On Friday, I examined two children with asthma, one with a mild condition and the other with a more severe case,' said Dr. Hugh Gilgoff, a pediatrician with the Children's Aid Society/Milbank Mount Sinai Medical Group. 'Any kind of irritants in the air can set off an asthma attack,' Dr. Gilgoff said. 'I can only assume that the smoke from the World Trade Center played some part in this.' What makes Dr. Gilgoff's assumption somewhat unusual is that his office, on 118th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues, is almost eight miles from the rubble at the site now called ground zero. The Wednesday evening after the attack, Barbara Skinner and 7-year- old Michael Thompson were leaving their church on 118th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, when Michael tugged at her skirt. 'Mommy, you smell that smoke?' asked Michael, a severe asthmatic who was coughing and wheezing. 'Where is it coming from?' Ms. Skinner, Michael's legal guardian, knew the answer...In an effort to help meet the increase in asthma-related calls, the Children's Miracle Network, which raises money for several hospitals and medical groups, donated several thousand inhalants to the Children's Aid Society, including albutero...The medication came from Wal-Mart, Rite Aid and Costco, Ms. Colon said. The donation was divided among the eight clinics that are financed by the Children's Aid Society, and Ms. Colon said that this week, a large reserve portion will be shipped downtown to rescue workers at ground zero, many of whom have had difficulty breathing properly as they labor in the smoke and dust. 'Obviously, if people way up here are affected by the smoke, people working at ground zero, and living nearby, should be on the lookout for asthma symptoms,' Dr. Gilgoff said. 'I've heard from my colleagues that a good number of those workers who do not have asthma are now wheezing and coughing, and they, too, should get themselves checked out.'"


NYT: It's Going to Take More Than Elbow Grease

Sept 20 -- "Cleaning up is 'the natural reaction,' said Damon Gersh, president of Maxons Restorations, alluding to many peoples' desire to bring order into their lives. But in extreme cases, he says, it is 'on our list of not-to-dos,' explaining that it is best to first consult an insurance broker. Household vacuum cleaners, sponges and mops tend to rearrange the dust without getting rid of it, he said, and in two days it settles back down, like a stubborn houseguest. Mr. Gersh, whose company is helping apartment owners, churches and businesses clean up after the disaster, has an unscientific litmus test for those who live south of Canal Street: Run your finger across the coffee table; if it leaves a visible swath and you pick up a white dust mixed with black soot, 'it's not a regular cleanup' and requires the help of professionals, he said. More than 292,000 people live in Manhattan below 14th Street, and many of them are running their fingers across tables and windowsills — and then standing in line at places like Duane Reade, whose stores below 14th Street report brisk sales of cleaning products...The United States Environmental Protection Agency has said that asbestos has not appeared in the air at dangerous levels. But 'the reason people are wearing masks is you are better off not breathing that stuff,' said Dr. Kenneth Demerjian, a physical chemist with the E.P.A., referring to the dust cloud. He has been studying particulate matter in New York since February 2000. Public health standards are based on the size of particulates, and 'the bottom line,' he said, 'is that the human lung would not like to be a filter for high amounts.' Doctors have warned that the fallout irritates eyes and lungs and can aggravate allergies, and they encourage the use of air-conditioners that recirculate indoor air, catching larger particles in filters boosted by a couple layers of cheesecloth. Anyone cleaning up should wear a mask — a $3 one will do — and use brooms or vacuums equipped with HEPA filters, said Dr. Ira Finegold, chief of allergy at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital. Preservation experts recommend cleaning family treasures using a vacuum, with its suction on low and its nozzle covered by cheesecloth secured by a rubber band. Their cleaning advice is available at www.heritagepreservation.org. Insurance policies may cover bigger cleanups. Reach for the phone, not the broom, say Jonathon Held, a partner in American Fire Restoration, and Robert Strongwater, a casualty loss expert, who worked alongside each other after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center."


NYT: Cleanup Specialists

Sept 20 -- "A number of companies clean textiles. Clean Bright Process (212-283-6400 or 516-333-7073) charges a minimum of $125 a visit, $2.50 a square foot to clean Oriental carpets and $25 a linear foot for upholstered furniture; there is a surcharge of up to 50 percent for construction-related dust. The Textile Conservation Workshop (914-763-5805) hand washes delicate and antique fabrics; figure that it will cost about $400 to clean a queen-size quilt. Services that specialize in disaster cleanups use refrigerator-size air cleaners and industrial rubber sponges that trap soot. Maxons Restorations (212-447 6767) estimates that it could finish a 3,000-square-foot loft in three days, with a team of six to 10 employees in masks and goggles; work would include cleaning electronics, artwork, area rugs, curtains and clothes off site, which would take several weeks. Total cost: $5,000 to $10,000. The Robert M. Strongwater Company (718-357-9191) helps estimate damages and carry out repairs. There is a fee for the estimate."


Business Week: What's Lurking in That Smoke?

Sept 20 -- "Some public-health experts fear the World Trade Center's fireball and collapse released a toxic stew of potentially harmful particles For many New Yorkers, it couldn't be avoided -- the hideous, throat-scorching smoke pouring out of ground zero that made parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn feel like a circle in Dante's hell. Some strapped on masks to keep from gagging on the fumes. Others, hit for days by the gray ash that blew over the boroughs, couldn't help but suck the mysterious flakes in...With the search-and-rescue mission still under way, the public-health concerns are not at the forefront -- yet. But as that effort gives way to demolition and cleanup, experts say that could soon change...For years, Europeans have banned the toxic, carcinogenic building and office products that fill most American workplaces. The twin towers were loaded with millions of items -- office furniture, computer circuit boards, plastic garbage cans, copy machines -- that were never meant to be burned. The resulting volcano of hazardous waste spewed carcinogenic chemicals, vaporized organic compounds, and highly dangerous combustible gases.

"The [EPA] found some samples taken near ground zero that exceeded asbestos levels deemed safe, one of which was 4.5 times the agency's acceptable standard. But mostly, its testing shows asbestos, as well as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), PAHs (polyaromatic hydrocarbons), and heavy metals, to be at levels considered safe...Yet many scientists and public-health experts in New York, across the country, and in Europe counter that dust and toxic materials, not asbestos, may be the biggest threat and that the EPA's testing is, at best, inconclusive...Peter L. deFur, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's Center for Environmental Studies who also serves on an EPA advisory committee...figures that the smoke and dust contain dangers not yet being measured. He believes longer-lasting effects from some of the chemicals released could show up in testing down the road, posing an 'increased risk for those living in the plume,' he says. Experts also argue that the EPA's standards, which are often heavily influenced by industry, are much too high, especially in an event of such unprecedented magnitude that flooded the environment with so many contaminants simultaneously...Indeed, EPA officials are using Superfund money for the relief effort.

"Many doctors say everyone who was in the explosions' vicinity could have potentially suffered acute exposure from the dust and smoke and could be at risk for everything from near-term respiratory ailments to, over decades, cancer...Rescue workers who weren't wearing protective gear, those returning to work in the area, and people who smoke are also at risk in the near and long term...Potentially toxic debris is probably all over lower Manhattan. Environmental consultants are also worried about the small-business owners and residents who have reentered the area, mopping up and vacuuming the dust themselves...The destruction of the World Trade Center towers unleashed a host of health risks:

For more information on what exactly is in offices, read this Business Week June 5, 2000 article: Is Your Office Killing You? Sick buildings are seething with molds, monoxide--and worse.


September 23:

NYDN: Fearful Tenants Fight to Break Leases: They want out of Battery Park

Sept 23 -- "Worried about potential environmental hazards, lack of services and the possibility of more attacks, hundreds of Battery Park City residents are desperate to break their leases and move far away from the remains of the World Trade Center. Some buildings are trying to accommodate their wishes. Others are not, or are unsure what to do...Cheryl Graham, 28, who is eight months pregnant with her first child, wants to avoid courtrooms even though her landlord at 400 Chambers St. is taking a hard line. She said if she and her husband break their lease, they will forfeit their security deposit and be liable for the rent until their $4,300-a-month, two-bedroom apartment is rented again. But she doesn't want to give birth while living near Ground Zero, either. 'When you bring a baby into the world, it's not the safest, happiest area,' she said. 'For the next six months, they'll be picking up debris. I'm really concerned about air quality.'...Those issues have led to the organization of the Battery Park City Residents Association, which is trying to negotiate lease cancellations and rent reductions. They may also hire experts to study air quality and landfill stability, according to founder Donald Scherer. A tenant's ability to break a lease depends on the lease's provisions, said Judith Goldiner, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society. Tenants forced out because the building is temporarily uninhabitable generally don't have to pay rent, she said. The ease of breaking a lease would depend upon on how long a tenant is out, the type of housing and whether or not the lease includes damage from 'acts of God,' Goldiner said."


September 24:

ENS: Moving The Weight of the World Trade Center

Sept 24 -- "To date, 101,164 tons of debris have been removed from the World Trade Center site to a landfill on Staten Island, and that is just the beginning. The current city estimate of the total amount of debris to be removed is 900,000 tons...Structural engineering teams from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on request from the City of New York are surveying buildings and structures near the World Trade Center so the city can assure the safety of search, rescue and debris removal operations in and around the affected areas...Today the Corps took on another task in response to the terrorist attack. At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Corps will dredge the Hudson River to allow the city easier access to remove debris to the Staten Island landfill. The Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company will perform the work under a $790,500 contract with the Corps which will lower the depth between Pier 6 and navigation channel maintained by the Corps. Up to 75,000 cubic yards of material will be removed and transported to the Newark Bay Confined Disposal Facility starting today. It should take about seven days to complete, and Corps inspectors will monitor the dredging activities to assure compliance with the appropriate protocols. The Environmental Protection Agency has brought 10 specialized trucks into lower Manhattan equipped with Highly Efficient Particulate Air filters capable of capturing small particles including asbestos fibers. Each truck has a 3,000 gallon capacity to help clean streets, vehicles and buildings of potentially hazardous dust. The dust and other materials are collected in air tight storage containers which are part of the truck design. The collected material is off-loaded at two city transfer stations, classified and disposed of according to law."


September 25:

WSJ: EPA Is Doubted on Testing at Attack Site
by Queena Kim, Staff Reporter of the Wall Street Journal
(article not available on website except to subscribers)

Sept 25 -- "On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement that it had taken a total of 101 dust samples at the World Trade Center site. Of those, only 37 samples contained 'slightly' more than 1% of asbestos, the amount after which something is classified as 'asbestos- containing.'...But some area residents have been skeptical of the EPA's findings and as a result, private and civic groups have paid for independent testing for asbestos as well as other potential contaminants.
     "One sample taken from the rooftop of a building near City Hall, about 10 blocks from the World Trade Center site, contained 4.5% asbestos, according to Eastern Analytical Services Inc., a laboratory in Elmsford, N.Y. Samples taken from a windowsill of the same building showed 2.5% asbestos...An EPA spokeswoman said the agency has conducted tests for a wide range of contaminants but hasn't been able to release the raw data to the public because the agency is overwhelmed at the present. The spokeswoman said the EPA has tested the air for PCBs, but still is awaiting the results.
     "Community Board 1, representing several neighborhoods in southern Manhattan, including Battery Park City, brought in two industrial-chemical consultants, Eric Chatfield and John Kominski, last week to collect dust and air samples...Last week, the two consultants and Ms. Wils sneaked into an apartment in Battery Park City and one on Warren Street, some 10 blocks north of the site of the twin towers, to take samples. The consultants declined to comment until tests are completed, Ms. Wils said.
     "In the financial district, Brookfield Properties Corp., owner of One Liberty Plaza and towers one, two and four or the World Financial Center Complex, said it had hired an environmental consultant. The company has run tests and brought in workers, who wear safety uniforms and masks, to do the environmental cleanup. The cleanup is almost completed for One Liberty Plaza, and is underway at One World Financial Center, said Larry Graham, senior vice president of operations and development at Brookfield."


September 26:

MSNBC: Uneasy breathing: As the dust settles in New York, concerns linger about health risks in the air

Sept 26 -- "Diane Miller, a New Yorker who recently returned to her co-op apartment two blocks from the scene of the devastation...[is] concerned about what is in the dust and ash, and has decided to hire professionals to do the cleanup. With an infant, and being herself asthmatic, the family decided to even delay moving back in, despite public assurances of safety. 'Moving back into our building as fires still smolder, and as clouds of dust, several stories high, rise up when debris is lifted by heavy equipment to be removed, does, in my book, constitute a health hazard, especially for a 1-year-old baby,' she says. Miller and her husband are now researching the possibility of moving everything out, having it cleaned item by item and stored until the apartment can itself be cleaned, including the ducts...Marcy Gordon...[says] 'For the first few days, it felt like we were breathing glass. I’d like to know what it was.'
     "'The city and Mayor Giuliani did a wonderful job cleaning up,' says Scott Mautner, a general counsel for Buy and Hold, an online brokerage firm, who like many Wall Street denizens wanted to show the undaunted spirit inspired by the city’s mayor. 'But it’s hard to get away from it. You can still see white ash here and there and smell the fires burning.' While encouraging people to move back to their homes and restore their lives to normalcy, the city does urge citizens to take precautions with dust and ash, says Sandra Mullin of the city’s Department of Health, 'to protect people with underlying respiratory problems.' The agency advises simple housekeeping tips like removing shoes, keeping windows closed and changing filters in air conditioners. Some experts are convinced the ash presents no long-term health hazards to citizens. Louise Leavitt of the American Lung Association’s New York office feels that residents walking around with dust masks are being a little self-indulgent. 'It may make them feel better but it’s not necessary or even recommended.'
     "Workers digging in around the fires in the charred carcass of the World Trade Center are indeed at risk, agrees New York Department of Health’s Mullin. 'It’s quite possible that workers could come down with coughing fits and longer term problems if they don’t follow the proper precautions.' Likewise, she says, workers involved in moving truckloads of ash to the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island are similarly endangered. 'As long as they keep their masks and gear on they should be OK,' says Hans Hallman of the New York State Emergency Management Office. But sometimes they fail to, he admits, and not everyone is properly equipped.
     "Tom Barnett, a Manhattan police officer and a trustee of the city’s Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, who was on the scene of the wreckage in the beginning, says that many police, fire and other rescue workers went unprotected in the first few days after the catastrophe. He fears that many could develop illnesses as a result. 'There were too many to count down there,' says Barnett, who adds, 'No one was sick in the beginning of the Gulf War, but as time went on they developed illnesses. I can only imagine that the same thing could happen here.'
     "'Hazards are being swept under the rug in the interests of restoring calm,' says Joel Kupferman, a lawyer with the nonprofit Environmental Law and Justice Project, who faults the city for failing to make public its measurements of toxins in the air and dust. 'You have every reason to be concerned when they don’t give you the data,' he charges. His group is one of several, including the Queens-based Center for the Biology of Natural Systems, that have tried unsuccessfully to get environmental monitoring data from government agencies. 'They even declined our Freedom of Information Act request,' says Kupferman....[They found asbestos and] high levels (15 percent) of fiberglass, the substance used to replace it, and other types of mineral fiber (65 percent). Although fiberglass is not as dangerous as asbestos, says pulmonologist E. Neil Schachter, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, 'we do not as yet know what the health consequences of breathing fiberglass fibers are.' It is known that direct contact with fiberglass fibers can irritate the skin, nose and throat, however, and according to the American Lung Association, 'There is a possibility that these fibers cause permanent damage to the lungs or airways, or increase the likelihood of developing lung cancer.' Biologist Peter deFur, who teaches at the Center for Environmental Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, says that he is less concerned about the asbestos than other materials..."The larger problems are heavy metals and organic compounds,' deFur says. Mercury, lead, copper, nickel, cadium, chromium, dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs] could all be present in the air because of the materials found in everyday office equipment, from copiers and printers to computers and electrical equipment.
     "EPA chief Whitman has said, 'While we haven’t yet gotten results for all possible contaminants, we do know that levels of metals and mercury are below permit discharge limits.'"


VV: The Dust May Never Settle

Sept 26 -- "During the week that followed the attack, the acrid smell of burning plastic was so strong that residents far from ground zero mistakenly called in false alarms to fire departments in Queens, Nassau County, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. Did the chemical smell hint at danger? 'Yes, the building has PCBs, furans, and PVC, lots of PVC especially,' Columbia University journalism professor Steven S. Ross wrote in a memo circulated among activists and journalists. Though the initial inferno destroyed some organic compounds, other toxins were likely released as the blaze abated, Ross said...
      "'The first four of our samples indicate that the hazards posed by the dust are significant,' confirmed New York Environmental Law Project attorney Joel R. Kupferman. His group and the Arts, Crafts and Theater Safety organization sampled dust at the WTC site, finding worrying levels of fiberglass and asbestos, as well as other potential hazards. Recovery workers interviewed by the groups reported 'trouble breathing, some wheezing and coughing. Many are suffering with severe eye irritation and headaches,' according to a report issued by Kupferman. Separately, dermatologist Paul Dantzig wrote to The New York Times Sunday that he was 'beginning to see dermatological problems arising from the World Trade Center catastrophe, like foreign-body reactions on the skin and cutaneous infections.' He continued, 'The kinds of problems that occur on the skin can also occur in the lungs. People who inhaled large amounts of dust and debris from the center's collapse will be at risk of developing granulomas and fibrosis of the lungs. I suggest that they be followed medically and receive X-rays now and periodically over the next few years.'
     "The dust is an immediate concern for Dr. Jacqueline Moline, a professor of occupational and environmental medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. 'People have been far more affected by dust in the air in the short term than asbestos in the long term,' she said. Otherwise healthy people who are sensitive to the clay, concrete, paper, silica, and steel dust are at risk of 'developing reactive airways,' and runny eyes and noses should alert one to particulate irritation. The key isn't the type of dust, she explained, but the particle size. Those most vulnerable to the dust storm are people with asthma or underlying conditions, such as cardiopulmonary diseases, that may be aggravated, Moline said.
     "Air quality tests done by the city haven't found pollutants at levels to threaten city residents, but Ross noted that those tests began 12 hours after the catastrophe. Kupferman contended that public agencies may be suppressing data to speed the relief effort...Ross pointed out that 'there are plenty of documented cases of shipyard workers getting mesothelioma (a cancer of the chest lining, unique to asbestos) after only a few weeks' exposure' to asbestos. 'Smoking,' he said, 'raises the risk drastically. Almost 100 percent of all asbestos workers in the '60s and '70s who smoked have died of mesothelioma.'...Masks worn by emergency teams first on the scene weren't adequate, said Moline, but the gear supplied since then is appropriate."


September 27:

Reuters: U.S. to Test Subways Against Chemical Attack

Sept 27 -- "The United States is preparing to test a revolutionary system for detecting chemical attacks in subway stations, a government official said on Wednesday...The U.S. government has been working on an early warning sensor system, thought to be the first of its kind in the world, for the past three years...The system would detect and identify toxic chemicals, map contaminated zones and predict directions in which the hazardous gases might spread so emergency crews could redirect trains and passengers. 'It's a bit like a smoke detector in your house that's wired to the fire station... so that the fire department knows there's a fire, which floor it's on and what kind of fire it is,' the [anonymous] official [from the National Nuclear Security Administration] said. 'This is a response system. It's the only one in the world I'm aware of,' she added.
     "Analysts have seen metro systems as vulnerable targets for chemical attacks since 1995, when members of a Japanese doomsday cult released sarin gas on a crowded Tokyo subway. The nerve gas killed 12 people and nearly 6,000 fell ill. 'I think Tokyo was a wake-up call. I would think it was the 1995 equivalent of the events of two weeks ago,' the NNSA official said. Experts believe the two most likely chemical agents would be nerve gases like sarin which short-circuit the nervous system and mustard gas, used in World War One, which causes lethal internal and external blistering. The system could eventually be developed to detect biological weapons. Possible biological agents include anthrax, a highly contagious disease spread by spores which is almost always fatal, and smallpox, a virus which killed millions over centuries until it was declared eradicated two decades ago."


September 28:

NYDN: Health Hazards in Air Worry Trade Center Workers

Sept 28 -- "Ever since the World Trade Center disaster, federal and city officials have said there is minimal risk from the fetid, dust-filled air and smoke that continue to envelop Ground Zero. But independent tests of dust samples around the site have found dangerous levels of cancer-causing asbestos, fiberglass -- and even residues of human bone particles. Leaders of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association retained the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project to conduct independent monitoring after dozens of cops assigned to rescue operations voiced their worries to union leaders about what is in the polluted air they keep breathing...The tests showed that in four of the 10 samples, asbestos fibers comprised 2% to 5% of the lab specimens...
     "The Environmental Protection Agency's own air monitoring stations were operating around Ground Zero within hours of the attacks on Sept. 11, and those machines have also registered levels of asbestos in some cases far above federal permissible levels. But the agency did not begin publicly disclosing its test results until yesterday, when it posted some data on its Web page. Worse, the test results revealed yesterday are only for the most recent test period, Sept. 22-24, some 11 days after the buildings collapsed, and much of the dust has blown all over New York...
     "The twin towers may have contained as much as 1,000 tons of asbestos, according to Jonathan Bennett, a spokesman for the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health...Although not as dangerous as asbestos, fiberglass has been classified as a 'possible carcinogen' by the International Agency for Research in Cancer. It also can trigger severe itching and rashes. 'I worry about the rescue workers because they are stirring up rubble that can have uneven and sometimes very high concentrations of asbestos,' said Dr. Stephen Levin, medical director of the Mount Sinai Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 'They're being exposed not only to asbestos, but to acid mist and volatile organic compounds.'
     "After the first few days, officials supervising the site provided breathing masks with filters to rescue workers, but Kupferman and police union leaders say that enforcement of the wearing of masks has been lax...'It's not only a hazardous dump, but it's unstable. Fires keep breaking out under the debris, and every time a crane moves the stuff, more dust is thrown in the air.' The problem worsens whenever the wind kicks up.
     "Although PBA officials commissioned last week's tests, they refused yesterday to say what their reaction was to the results. 'We're doing some further tests and aren't ready to make any statements yet,' said PBA spokesman Joe Mancini. But a cop who was familiar with the study told me yesterday his union leaders were afraid of friction with City Hall. 'They should be concerned not just for police officers and firefighters, but for citizens in the area,' the cop told me."


NYDN: Debris Can Aggravate Lung, Asthma Woes

Sept 28 -- "Airborne human bone ash, concrete dust, asbestos and fiberglass particles near Ground Zero pose a threat to unprotected recovery workers and could cause 'irritation' to those with chronic lung problems or asthma, an environmental medicine expert said. But for healthy New Yorkers, not exposed to the air for prolonged periods of time, the risk factor is minimal...But those with lung or asthma conditions should stay away and not breathe the dust, to avoid irritation, Levin said. Apartment dwellers returning to dust-filled homes should contact professional cleaners. Homeowners should not clean the dust off themselves using brooms, dust cloths, or household vacuum cleaners. 'Do not disturb it and put it in the air again,' Levin said. And all rescue workers should wear respirator masks because they screen out asbestos fiber. 'The hospital masks are inadequate,' Levin said.
     "Asbestos...With long exposure, scar lung tissue, cause cancer. Two days or two weeks is not enough to cause scarring, Levin said. Any exposure raises concern about cancer. Safe levels: None. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 70 fibers per square millimeter of air for an extended period is a 'level of concern.' In bulk dust, 1% in a sample is hazardous.
     "Many EPA readings near the ruins show levels well below 70. At the northeast corner of South End Ave. and Albany St., the level was 103.7 on Sunday, 29.6 on Monday. Even low levels in settled dust can, if stirred into the air, surpass relatively safe levels for air, said Dr. Barry Commoner, senior scientist at Queens College Center for the Biology of Natural Sciences
     "Fiberglass...Irritate skin and the tissue in eyes, nose, throat and lungs...Safe levels: There are no official standards, said Commoner.
     "Bone: There are no safety standards for bone ash and it probably poses no health risk."


NYDN: Stuyvesant HS Planning Stringent Tests for Asbestos

Sept 28 -- "Stuyvesant High School parents and teachers have enlisted their own experts to determine whether the school building, due to reopen within two weeks, has been contaminated with asbestos fibers. Dust samples taken by the federal Environmental Protection Agency outside Stuyvesant on Sept. 19 found asbestos levels were up to twice the allowed figures, according to agency spokeswoman Mary Helen Cervantes. An environmental safety expert familiar with the tests, however, countered that the asbestos-laden dust samples were taken from inside the school, a claim the EPA denied yesterday...But the EPA refused to release test results of air samples taken from the day of the attacks through Sept. 21. The EPA is putting together a schedule for taking samples inside the high school, which is six blocks from the towers.
      "'We will begin testing, especially for air quality, next Thursday, and if we are unsatisfied with the results, we will make a different decision about reopening Oct. 9,' said Karen Finney, a spokeswoman for Schools Chancellor Harold Levy. Two 80-man crews are power-vacuuming air ducts of debris dust, replacing carpeting and hosing down the 10-story building, which was used as an emergency command and staging area for rescue efforts before being returned to the Board of Education Tuesday...But critics question whether Stuyvesant or any of the seven other evacuated schools should reopen while excavation continues at the trade center site. 'Open trucks full of debris are going up the West Side Highway. Open barges are going up the river. Every time they dig further, more fumes are released. Until that stops, the schools should not be opened,' said Joel Kupferman of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project."


September 29:

NYDN: Traces of Asbestos Further Setback for HS: Findings could delay Stuyvesant reopening

Sept 29 -- "Asbestos was found inside Stuyvesant High School in tests last week, raising concerns that the school near the World Trade Center wreckage is contaminated with the cancer-causing substance, the Board of Education said yesterday. Three dust samples taken inside the high school Sept. 21 contained asbestos fibers, said Bernard Orlan, the Board of Ed's director of environmental health and safety. A dozen air samples taken the same day, however, were free of airborne asbestos, the most dangerous form. Asbestos-laden dust samples also were found inside Public School 150 on Greenwich St., though the air tests were clean. The Daily News reported yesterday that dust samples taken by the federal Environmental Protection Agency outside Stuyvesant on Sept. 19 found asbestos at twice the permitted level. The agency said it has not yet tested air quality inside the school...
     "Wary Stuyvesant parents have enlisted their own experts to determine whether the school is safe. Board of Ed officials said they were confident a $1 million cleanup launched this week at Stuyvesant would ensure that the school would be ready to reopen Oct. 9. At PS 150, which has only 12 classrooms, cleaning was completed last weekend. The school is to reopen Thursday. The other six Ground Zero schools will get the same cleaning for asbestos even if tests are negative, Orlan said. 'The standard we are using to clean Stuyvesant and the other schools is: Unless I'm willing to put my child in there, I won't put anyone else's in the school,' he said...[C]ritics, such as the New York Environmental Law & Justice Project, contend Stuyvesant and the seven other schools in the area evacuated after the disaster should remain closed until the Trade Center excavation is finished and the fires that have flared since the towers crumbled are out. Of the 12 to 15 air samples taken at Stuyvesant last week by experts hired by the Board of Ed, all showed below 70 asbestos fibers per square millimeter -- the EPA's action level. Stuyvesant's levels were in the 20s last week, Orlan said. Of the dust samples taken, three of 35 tested positive for asbestos. The dust tests cannot measure asbestos as precisely as air samples."


NYDN: State Workers Flee WTC Smoke

Sept 29 --"Scores of jittery employees at the state attorney general's office a block from Ground Zero were sent home early yesterday when shifting winds filled their building with a strong smell of smoke, officials said. More than 900 state workers are employed at the 40-story building at 120 Broadway. The smoke apparently was caused by fires smoldering in the World Trade Center wreckage. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office occupies seven floors of the building, said Steve Solomon, a spokesman for Silverstein Properties, which owns the building."


NYDN: Asbestos in Ground Zero Air Generally Safe, EPA Shows

Sept 29 -- "Air samples taken from lower Manhattan three days after the World Trade Center collapsed showed asbestos levels that only occasionally exceeded permissible levels, according to federal inspection records. Since the towers fell Sept. 11, city and federal officials have said rescue workers faced minimal risk from the fetid, debris-filled dust. Mayor Giuliani repeated those assurances yesterday, calling air quality 'safe and acceptable.' Initial asbestos readings from 16 sites taken by the Environmental Protection Agency from Sept. 14 to 24 largely confirmed those assurances. Of more than 500 air samples taken, 15 exceeded federal limits for asbestos, according to the EPA records released last night. There were occasional spikes in the EPA's air tests, such as Sept. 14, when asbestos levels at Barclay St. and West Broadway hit 133 fibers per cubic millimeter, nearly twice the allowed level of 70 fibers. Another spike came Sept. 15 at Liberty St. and South End Ave., when asbestos readings hit 150. 'As we have been saying, there was not a significant risk, even in the early days,' said EPA spokeswoman Mary Helen Cervantes, though she said rescue workers should continue to wear protective gear...
     "The Daily News reported yesterday that tests by independent experts of dust samples around the Trade Center ruins found air mixed with dangerous levels of asbestos and fiberglass and even human bone particles. On Sept. 19, four of 10 dust tests found that 2% to 5% of the specimens contained asbestos. The EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration agree that any material containing 1% asbestos officially triggers federal rules for employee protection and cleanup. Air samples like those taken by the EPA are considered a better safety indicator than dust samples. Asbestos in dust or chunks is not dangerous unless it becomes airborne. If inhaled, the fibers can embed themselves deep in the lungs and cause serious illnesses. Dr. Stephen Levin, head of Mount Sinai Medical Center's Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, said there is no safe level for asbestos. 'There is always some increase in the risk of cancer in any exposure to asbestos,' he said. But Levin and other experts said short-term asbestos exposure is not likely to result in serious health problems. Those most at risk are workers who handle the stuff daily for years and smokers. They risk lung-scarring, asbestosis — the inflammation of lung tissue — and cancer."


News Reports
Table of Contents
Sept 2001
Oct 2001

 

 


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