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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 110 samples taken in and around ground zero from November 25 through November 26. In addition, EPA sampled for asbestos at three additional lower Manhattan locations on November 20-22 for a total of 89 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 2,711, 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 from November 20 -21 from these locations showed no exceedances of the AHERA re-entry standard.
Staten Island Landfill:
Air (Asbestos) - Fifty-four samples were collected on November 26 - 28. All of these samples were below the school re-entry 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 28 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 November 27 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).
PM10 - Monitoring for particulate matter (particles less than 10 microns in diameter) was conducted on November 26 and 27 at a monitoring site on Wall Street. The twenty-four hour averages for these readings were 27.61ug/m3 and 32.88 ug/m3, well below EPA's Ambient Air Quality Standard of 150ug/m3.
VOCs - Sampling for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) was conducted on November 28 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 exceeded the OSHA standard at one location on the debris pile of the South Tower at ground level. Two other samples taken at Austin Tobin Plaza and the EPA's Wash Tent showed no detectable levels of benzene. Similar results were found for samples taken on November 22.
Dioxin - Ten samples were collected on November 2 and analyzed for dioxin/furans. Three samples 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.
Direct Air Readings - No significant readings found on November 28.
U.S. Government Website