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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 on November 15 and 16. 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 2,270, with 28 samples above the standard (27 were collected prior to September 30 and one was collected on October 9).
Air: Fixed Monitors in New Jersey:
Asbestos - Four air samples were taken in New Jersey on November 15. All samples showed results less than school re-entry standard. This brings the total number of samples collected and analyzed in New Jersey to 195, with zero above the standard
Staten Island Landfill:
Air (Asbestos) - Fourty-nine samples were collected on November 16 and 17. Two samples, one from each day, were not analyzed due to filter overloading. All but one of the 47 samples analyzed were below the school re-entry standard. One analyzed sample, taken on November 17 at Wash Location #11, was above the school re-entry standard.
Air (Particulates) - EPA used portable monitors to collect samples from November 15 through November 19 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). Particulate levels at all locations were below the OSHA time-weighted permissible exposure limit.
VOCs - Sampling for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) was conducted from November 14 through 19 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 samples from the North Tower (one taken on Nov. 14, 16 and 19) and South Tower (one taken on Nov. 14, 16, 18 and 19) debris piles in the plume exceeded the OSHA PEL of 1 part per million (ppm). Ten of thirteen other samples taken at the Washing Tent, North Park Pier and Austin Tobin Plaza were non-detect for benzene. EPA detected vinyl acetate above the NIOSH permissible exposure limit in a sample taken in the plume at the South Tower on Nov. 16. EPA detected 1,3-Butadiene in samples taken in the plume at the South Tower on Nov. 14, 16 and 18 at levels above the OSHA permissible exposure limit and standard. There was no detection of 1,3-Butadiene in the other nine samples taken on these days.
Note: EPA also detected 1,3-Butadiene above the OSHA permissible exposure limit in the debris pile plume at ground zero on Oct. 24 and Nov. 10. It was not detected in seven other samples taken on these two days.
Direct Air Readings - Direct readings taken from November 15 through 19 in and around ground zero showed no levels of significance.
U.S. Government Website