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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal, state and local agencies have collected extensive environmental monitoring data from the World Trade Center site and nearby areas in Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey. Since September 11, EPA has taken samples of the air, dust, water, river sediments and drinking water and analyzed them for the presence of pollutants that might pose a health risk to response workers at the World Trade Center site and the public. The samples are evaluated against a variety of benchmarks, standards and guidelines established to protect public health under various conditions. EPA is collecting data from more than 20 fixed air monitors in and around ground zero and additional monitors in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. The Agency is also using portable sampling equipment to collect data from a range of locations.
Air: Fixed Monitors in New York:
Asbestos - EPA analyzed 40 samples taken in and around ground zero from November 10 through November 11. In addition, EPA sampled for asbestos at three recently added lower Manhattan locations on November 4 and from November 8 to November 9, for a total of 46 samples in this period. All samples showed results less than 70 structures per square millimeter, which is the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) standard for allowing children to re-enter school buildings after asbestos removal activities. This brings the total number of air samples collected and analyzed for lower Manhattan to 2,062, with 28 samples above the standard (27 were collected prior to September 30 and one was collected on October 9).
Air: Fixed Monitors outside lower Manhattan:
Asbestos - Additional asbestos monitors have been placed at Public School 154 (33 East 135th St., Bronx), Intermediate School 143 (511 W. 182nd St., Manhattan), P.S. 274 (800 Bushwick Ave, Brooklyn), P.S. 44 (80 Maple Parkway, Staten Island) and P.S. 199 (3290 48th St., Queens). Asbestos samples collected on November 4 and from November 8 to November 9 from these locations showed no exceedances of the AHERA re-entry standard.
Staten Island Landfill:
Air (Asbestos) - Nineteen samples were collected on November 11. Two of these samples showed results above the school re-entry standard. Five of the samples were not analyzed due to filter overloading.
Air (Particulates) - EPA used portable monitors to collect samples of particulates on November 11 at the Staten Island Landfill. There was an increase in the daily average readings at Perimeter Location #8.
PM 2.5 - Monitoring for fine particulate matter (particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter) was conducted on November 12 at Pace University, Borough of Manhattan Community College, and the Coast Guard building in Battery Park. All 24-hour averages were below the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) of 65 ug/m3 for all stations. These results were also less than 40 ug/m3, a level on the EPA Air Quality Index indicating that air quality is unhealthy for sensitive populations (e.g., those with respiratory illnesses).
Particulate Monitoring - EPA used portable monitors to collect samples on November 9 and 11 in the following locations: L (north east side of Stuyvesant High School); N (south side of Pier 25); and R (north west side of Stuyvesant High School). All readings were below the OSHA time-weighted permissible exposure limit for particulates.
VOCs - Sampling for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) was conducted on November 4, 9 and 11 in the direct area of the debris pile at ground zero. To protect workers at the work site, EPA takes grab samples of VOCs where smoke plumes have been sighted. The results are snapshots of the levels at a moment in time. OSHA's protective standards set a permissible exposure limit (PEL) averaged over an 8-hour day. Benzene in two samples from the North Tower (one taken on Nov. 4) and South Tower (one taken on Nov. 9) debris piles in the plume exceeded the OSHA PEL of 1 part per million (ppm). Five of ten other samples taken at the Washing Tent, North Park Pier and Austin Tobin Plaza were non-detect for benzene.
Direct Air Readings - Direct readings taken on November 9 through November 11 in and around ground zero showed no levels of significance.
U.S. Government Website