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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 77 samples taken in and around ground zero from November 23 through November 25. In addition, EPA sampled for asbestos at three additional lower Manhattan locations on November 23 for a total of 80 samples. 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 2,669, 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 23 from these locations showed no exceedances of the AHERA re-entry standard.
Staten Island Landfill:
Air (Asbestos) - Forty-eight samples were collected on November 25 and 26. All of these samples were below the school re-entry standard. One sample collected on November 26 contained 69.99 structures per square millimeter, which is extremely close to the standard.
Air (Particulates) - EPA used portable monitors to collect samples of particulates on November 27 at the Staten Island Landfill. Nothing of significant readings reported.
Particulate Monitoring - EPA used portable monitors to collect samples on November 27 at 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.
PM 2.5 - Monitoring for fine particulate matter (particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter) was conducted from November 20 through November 26 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).
VOCs - Sampling for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) was conducted on November 27 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 did not exceed the OSHA standard at any of the sampling locations.
Dioxin - Ten samples were collected on October 30 and analyzed for dioxin/furans. One sample showed results above the level at which EPA would take some type of action to reduce people's exposure. This action guideline is based on a 30-year exposure. However, none of the samples were above the EPA action guideline adjusted to a one-year exposure. These levels do not pose a short-term health affect but should be monitored if they persist for a long period of time.
Silicates - Ten samples were collected on November 15 and analyzed for silicates. All samples were either non-detect or below the NIOSH standard.
Metals - Ten samples were collected on each of the following days: November 6, 12 and 15. 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.
Direct Air Readings - No signficant readings found on November 27.
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