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New York City Seal
Press Release
NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene
Office of Communications
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Sandra Mullin/Greg Butler
Friday, October 4, 2002
(212) 788-5290
(877) 640-1347

ATSDR and New York City release final report
on residential air and dust sampling
in lower Manhattan following WTC collapse


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Protecting America's Health from Toxic Exposure
1600 Clifton Road, NE, MS E-60, Atlanta, GA 30330 www.ATSDR.cdc.gov
public inquiries 1-888-422-8737 or e-mail: atsdric@cdc.gov
media inquiries (404) 498-0070 or e-mail: atsdrmediainquiries@cdc.gov

Media Announcement
For Immediate Release: October 4, 2002

Atlanta - The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, today released their final report about residential air and dust sampling in lower Manhattan following the collapse of the World Trade Center.

From Nov. 4 through Dec. 11, 2001, air and dust samples were collected in and around 30 residential buildings in lower Manhattan. Four buildings in upper Manhattan above 59th St. also were sampled as a comparison.

The sampling was done to learn what potentially harmful substances were in the air and settled surface dust in those residential areas and to determine if the substances appeared at levels that could cause harmful health effects.

According to the report, air sampling results showed that:

  • Airborne levels of total fibers were similar in lower and upper Manhattan.
  • Airborne levels of mineral components of concrete and mineral components of building wallboard were higher in lower Manhattan than in the upper Manhattan comparison area.

Dust sampling results showed:

  • Low levels of asbestos were found in some settled surface dust in lower Manhattan, primarily below Chambers St.
  • No asbestos was found in the upper Manhattan comparison area.
  • Lower Manhattan had higher percentages of fiberglass, mineral components of concrete and mineral components of building wallboard in settled surface dust than the upper Manhattan comparison area.

The report states that levels of materials detected in the air and dust samples do not pose potential health hazards provided that the following recommended cleaning measures are followed:

  • Continue to clean residences with HEPA vacuums and damp cloths or mops.
  • Participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's cleaning and sampling program.

Investigators' sampling efforts focused on finding materials expected to be present in the original dust cloud and in dust generated by activities at the World Trade Center site. Of particular interest were materials having irritant properties and associated with long- term health effects.

Samples were analyzed for asbestos, fiberglass, mineral components of concrete (quartz, calcite and portlandite), and mineral components of building wallboard (gypsum, mica and halite).

Although asbestos was found in some samples, the low levels detected and short length of exposure make it very unlikely that people will become ill from asbestos exposure. Asbestos related illnesses usually occur only from long-term, occupational exposure.

Exposure to fiberglass can cause rashes and upper respiratory irritation. However, these health effects diminish when the exposure subsides.

Because asbestos and fiberglass particles are in settled dust and can easily become airborne if disturbed, residents should continue to frequently clean their apartments with HEPA vacuums and damp cloths or mops. This will reduce residents' potential for exposure.

A copy of the report is available on the ATSDR Web site at www.atsdr.cdc.gov and on the NYC DOHMH Web site at www.nyc.gov/health under the "WTC Disaster Information" section.

For additional information, news media representatives should contact Associate Commissioner Sandra Mullin, NYC DOHMH, at (212)788-5290.

Reporters wishing to interview ATSDR staff should make an appointment with John Florence or Kathy Skipper in ATSDR's Office of Policy and External Affairs at 404-498-0070. Suggest defining or explaining HEPA.

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