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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 37 samples taken in and around ground zero from November 11 through November 12. In addition, EPA sampled for asbestos at three recently added lower Manhattan locations on November 10, for a total of 40 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 2,102, 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 10 from four of these locations showed no exceedances of the AHERA re-entry standard. The location in the Bronx was not sampled.
Staten Island Landfill:
Air (Asbestos) - Thirty-eight samples were collected on November 11 and 12. One of these samples, taken on November 12, showed results above the school re-entry standard. One sample was not analyzed due to filter overloading. All other 36 samples were below the school re-entry standard.
Air (Particulates) - EPA used portable monitors to collect samples of particulates on November 13 and 14 at the Staten Island Landfill. Nothing of significance reported at all five stations.
PM 10 - Monitoring for particulate matter (particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter) was conducted from October 25 through November 5 at Pace University, Borough of Manhattan Community College, the Coast Guard building, Public School (P.S.) 274 in Brooklyn, and the Canal Street Post Office. All 24-hour average values were below the National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 150 ug/m3 for all available stations.
Particulate Monitoring - EPA used portable monitors to collect samples on November 13 and 14 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 13 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 one sample from plume of the North Tower debris pile exceeded the OSHA PEL of 1 part per million (ppm). Two of three other samples taken at the Washing Tent, located at Murray and West St., and Austin Tobin Plaza were non-detect for benzene.
Ambient Air Sampling:
Metals - Ten samples were collected on October 18. Analysis for all metals were either non-detect or below applicable standards, guidelines and permissible levels established by EPA and OSHA. Final analysis of these samples for chromium showed that chromium is not present.
PCBs - Ten samples were collected on October 18, with an additional ten collected on October 26 all were analyzed for PCBs. Trace amounts were detected in two samples, one from each of these sampling days. All other 18 samples were non-detect for PCBs.
Silicates - Ten samples were collected on October 26, with an additional ten collected on November 2 - all were analyzed for silicates. No silicates were detected in any of these samples.
Bulk/Dust: Metals - Two dust samples obtained from rooftops in the vicinity of ground zero (22 Cortlandt and 600 Gateway Plaza) were levels of concern based on EPA's guidelines for taking action to reduce exposure.
Direct Air Readings - Direct readings taken on November 13 through November 14 in and around ground zero showed no levels of significance.
U.S. Government Website