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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 83 samples taken in and around ground zero on November 26 through and November 29. In addition, EPA sampled for asbestos at three additional lower Manhattan locations on November 26 for a total of 86 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 2,833, 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 26 from these locations showed no exceedances of the AHERA re-entry standard.
Staten Island Landfill:
Air (Asbestos) - Fifty-six samples were collected on November 29 and 30. All of these samples were below the school re-entry standard.
Air (Particulates) - EPA used portable monitors to collect samples of particulates on December 1 and 2 at the Staten Island Landfill. No significant readings reported.
PM 2.5 - Monitoring for fine particulate matter (particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter) was conducted November 28 through 30 at Pace University, Borough of Manhattan Community College, and the Coast Guard building in Battery Park and on Wall Street. 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 micrometers in diameter) was conducted from November 28 through 30 at a location on Wall Street. All 24-hour average values were below the National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 150 ug/m3.
Particulate Monitoring - EPA used portable monitors to collect samples on November 30 and December 1 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 30 and December 1 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 (Nov. 30 and Dec. 1) and the South Tower (Nov. 30). Four other samples taken at EPA's Wash Tent (West St. and Murray) and Austin Tobin Plaza showed no detectable levels of benzene.
Direct Air Readings - No significant readings found on November 30 and December 1.
U.S. Government Website