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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 33 samples taken in and around ground zero on November 27 and November 28. All but one sample showed 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. The one sample with results above this standard was taken from Stuyvesant High School (at West St. and Chambers) with a reading of 124.44 S/mm2.
In addition, EPA sampled for asbestos at three additional lower Manhattan locations on November 24 for a total of 36 samples. These samples all showed results below the school re-entry standard. This brings the total number of air samples collected and analyzed for lower Manhattan to 2,747, with 29 samples above the standard (27 of these above-standard readings were collected prior to September 30 and one was collected on October 9 and the other on November 27).
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 24 from these locations showed no exceedances of the AHERA re-entry standard.
Staten Island Landfill:
Air (Asbestos) - Fifty-seven samples were collected on November 28 and 29. All of these samples were below the school re-entry standard.
PM10 - Monitoring for particulate matter (particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter) was conducted from November 6 through 16 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.
VOCs - Sampling for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) was conducted on November 29 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 two locations on the debris pile - the North Tower and the South Tower. One of two other samples taken at EPA's Wash Tent (West St. and Murray) showed no detectable levels of benzene.
U.S. Government Website