Following the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on September
11, 2001, New York State and Federal agencies initiated numerous air monitoring
activities to better understand the ongoing impact of emissions from the
disaster. This report focuses on these air measurement data, evaluating
them in terms of what is typical for New York City or general urban background
and interpreting it with regard to the potential for human health consequences.
The report does not evaluate exposures possibly faced by rescue or clean-up
workers and briefly discusses past and current indoor monitoring efforts.
The not-for-profit Global Environment & Technology Foundation (GETF)
released on May 16, 2003 the findings of a national asbestos stakeholder
process. ÊThis year-long process drew upon the expertise of more than
one hundred government, academic, and private sector organizations. The
report, entitled Asbestos Strategies, reflects the recommendations, opinions
and comments of a diverse stakeholder and expert group.ÊÊIt identifies
twenty-one key actions that the public and private sectors can take to
reduce the risk from asbestos in the future.ÊÊThe report offers a look
at the current asbestos situation, a review of recent research and the
views of numerous stakeholders with significant asbestos experience on
actions that need to be taken to reduce further asbestos risks.ÊÊ
Asbestos use has dropped dramatically over the past 30 years.ÊÊYet still
today asbestos is a major environmental policy issue, as various Federal
and state agencies and private sector organizations grapple with continuing
public health concerns, such as the legacy of the Libby, Montana vermiculite
mine, possible asbestos risks from the World Trade Center collapse and
other related issues.ÊÊOver thirty countries are developing or have issued
bans on all forms of asbestos.ÊÊIn addition, the volume and scope of litigation
claims filed against business for past asbestos exposure have grown dramatically
and pose significant economic impacts.ÊÊ
To address some near and long term solutions for these asbestos challenges,
GETF conducted this process to develop a report of recommendations and
options and identify areas in need of more action. GETF engaged a diverse
range of stakeholders to identify significant concerns and uncertainties
regarding asbestos use and management -- many of which can be addressed
through the provision of accurate information and outreach.Ê
The analysis in this report supports three general findings: 1) Persons
exposed to the extremely high levels of ambient particulate matter and
its components during the collapse of the World Trade Center towers and
for several hours afterwards were likely to be at risk for immediate acute
(and possibly chronic) respiratory and other types (e.g., cardiovascular)
of symptoms. 2) The first measurements of some of the contaminants were
on September 14, while other contaminants were not measured until September
23. Available data suggest that the concentrations within and near Ground
Zero were likely to be highest in the few days following September 11.
Because there are only limited data on these critical few days, exposures
and potential health impacts cannot be evaluated with certainty for this
time period. 3) Except for exposures on September 11 and possibly during
the next few days, persons in the surrounding community were unlikely
to suffer short-term or long-term adverse health effects caused by exposure
to elevations in ambient air concentrations of the contaminants evaluated
in this report. These elevated concentrations were measured mostly within
and near Ground Zero, and they lasted for one to three months after September
11. The monitoring data indicate that air concentrations decreased to
background levels that are characteristic of pre-September 11 levels in
the New York City metropolitan area by around January or February of 2002.
Global Environment & Technology Foundation Releases Recommendations
Report on Asbestos Use and Management. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
Washington, D.C., 2003.
Environment & Technology Foundation Releases Recommendations Report on
Asbestos Use and Management. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA NATIONAL STANDARDS VS. NEW
YORK CITY GUIDELINES, CLEANUP OF DUSTS FROM WORLD TRADE CENTER
DATE: November 15, 2001
SUBJECT: EPA National Standards vs. New York City Guidelines, Cleanup
of Dusts from World Trade Center
FROM: Cate Jenkins, Ph.D., Environmental Scientist
Waste Identification Branch
Hazardous Waste Identification Division
Office of Solid Waste
US Environmental Protection Agency
Washington, DC 20460
TO: Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A., Director
Arts, Crafts, and Theater Safety (ACTS)
181 Thompson St., Suite 23
New York City, NY 10012
Please distribute this memo to interested persons. As we have discussed,
the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has effectively waived
the EPA national regulations under the Clean Air Act for asbestos cleanup
and removal. Dusts covering a large area of lower Manhattan, not just
Ground Zero, contain 1% or more asbestos as a result of the World Trade
Center disaster, and thus are subject to the EPA national asbestos regulations.
The mechanism EPA used to waive its own asbestos regulations was to
refer parties to the extremely lenient (and arguably illegal) asbestos
guidelines of the New York City Department of Health (NYC DOH). This
was in lieu of referring affected persons to the strict national regulations
for removal and disposal of asbestos contaminated dusts. As a result,
EPA is preventing people from even knowing that the strict EPA national
Although states (and thereby some cities) can be authorized (delegated)
by the EPA to enforce asbestos regulations and issue guidelines, any
state regulations and guidelines must be at least as stringent as the
EPA national asbestos regulations. There is a process within the EPA
for approving state/city asbestos programs, and there is also a process
within the EPA for revoking the authority of the state/city to administer
asbestos programs. Instead of taking action to correct the problems
with the NYC DOH guidance, EPA wholeheartedly endorsed it by referring
to it at the EPA web site.
This memorandum provides the web site pages so that any interested
person canto make the comparison between the lenient NYC DOH guidelines
and the EPA national asbestos regulations.
NEED FOR SAFE CLEANUP OF TRADE CENTER FALLOUT
The EPA tested dusts from the Trade Center fallout covering streets
and other surfaces. EPA found asbestos levels at 1 percent or greater
(the action level) at over 30 locations, some five to seven blocks away
from Ground Zero. EPA did not test for other toxic substances in these
surface dusts, such as fiberglass, PCB's, dioxins, lead, etc.
Although the EPA did not find air concentrations of asbestos exceeding
health standards outside of Ground Zero, this was undoubtedly because
the tests were performed in the open streets, where uncontaminated fresh
air mixes freely and dilutes any contaminated air. Inside of buildings
contaminated with Trade Center dusts could have higher airborne concentrations,
particularly when the dusts are disturbed during cleanup operations.
Thus, there is no data to support any claim that no hazardous exposures
will result from the uncontrolled cleanup of these dusts.
STRICT EPA NATIONAL REGULATIONS FOR ASBESTOS CLEANUP AND REMOVAL
The EPA national regulations for the cleanup and removal of asbestos-contaminated
debris from the demolition of buildings (the Trade Center fits into
this category) may be found in Parts 61.145 and 61.150 of Title 40 of
the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR 61.145 and 40 CFR 61.150). These
regulations may be found in bound volumes in most large city libraries,
and on the internet web site of the Government Printing Office (GPO)
Scroll down the page to "Search or browse your choice of CFR titles
and/or volumes". After you bring up that page, scroll down to Title
40, and then bring up the specific pages for Parts 61.145 and 61.150:
The specific web address is the following, but this may get garbled
in the transmission of this memo by email.
Download only the text versions of the regulations, because the PDF
versions have missing pages for some reason.
These national asbestos regulations are part of the National Emission
Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP's), which are under the
Clean Air Act. These regulations are designed to prevent untrained individuals
from any practices which might either expose themselves or others in
their community to unsafe levels of asbestos, including the exposures
of waste handlers transporting asbestos wastes to landfills, and the
persons in or around landfills or other disposal facilities.
These EPA regulations do not allow anyone to oversee and perform the
asbestos removal, such as a resident in an apartment or a building owner.
A management level person trained in both the EPA regulations as well
as those of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
is required. The expertise and training of the person must include at
a minimum 1) how, who, and when to notify appropriate government officials
prior to, during, and after the asbestos cleanup process, 2) identification
of hazardous materials by laboratory analyses and other means, 3) control
procedures for removals such as prior wetting of dusts, local exhaust
ventilation that captures all hazardous small particulates with HEPA
filters or other devices, 4) waste disposal practices that prevent any
leakage of asbestos during transport to a landfill or other disposal
facility or leakage after disposal, as well as disposal at appropriate
hazardous waste facilities, 5) reporting and recordkeeping to be submitted
to appropriate officiates at specified times, and 6) knowledge of asbestos
hazards and worker protection through approved OSHA respirators, other
protective clothing, medical monitoring, and other work practices. There
are many other requirements contained in the EPA regulations as well,
such as specific work practices, state and federal notifications and
approvals, and waste handling.
The EPA regulations apply to any dwelling of 4 or more units, as well
as all businesses. This means that the OSHA regulations are effectively
applied to all those involved in the cleanup, even though residences
and certain small business might normally be exempt from OSHA requirements.
This is because the trained professionals overseeing the cleanup, described
above, are mandated to follow approved and recommended OSHA practices
for worker protection.
The OSHA asbestos regulations are in 29 CFR 1910.1001 and may found at http://www.osha.gov..
Additional information on OSHA recommended work practices, testing
for asbestos, technical details on HEPA (high efficiency particulate
air) filtering equipment, etc. may be found at the general OSHA site
for asbestos at:
LENIENT NYC DOH GUIDELINES FOR TRADE CENTER DUST CLEANUP AND REMOVAL
As stated earlier, the New York City Department of Health (NYC DOH)
issued special guidelines directed at "people re-occupying commercial
buildings and residents re- entering their homes" after the Trade Center
The NYC DOH first claims that there is no health risk, stating:
"Based on the asbestos test results received thus far, there
are no significant health risks to occupants in the affected area or
to the general public."
The guidelines advise wearing a dust mask, but do not specify what
type of mask. The guidelines then claim "it should not be necessary
to wear this mask if you follow the cleaning procedures detailed below."
The NYC DOH then recommends the following cleanup procedures. They
recommend that it is only "best," not required, to use a wet rag or
wet mop, or if the apartment is very dusty, a person should wash or
use a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air filter) vacuum, and to take
curtains down "slowly" to keep dust from circulating in the air. Air
purifiers are recommended, but no specifications are given as to the
volume of air that the purifier can process. HEPA air purifiers are
also recommended, again with no guidelines as to the volume of air that
can be processed by the HEPA air purifier.
The NYC DOH then recommends keeping outdoor dust from entering the
home by keeping windows closed, and setting the air conditioner to re-circulate
air and cleaning the air conditioner filter frequently. Removing shoes
before entering the home for several days and avoiding sweeping or other
In contrast, the EPA national regulations for asbestos cleanup and
removal under 40 CFR Parts 61.145 and 61.150 are extensive. They do
not even allow individual residents of apartments, coops, or condominiums,
or renters of commercial spaces to perform their own cleanups, potentially
exposing themselves or others to hazardous exposures. See earlier discussions
of the EPA regulations.
The EPA national regulations do not allow optional respiratory protection,
such as the NYC DOH suggestion of wearing unspecified types of "dust
masks," where the mask does not meet OSHA requirements. The suggestion
of using an air conditioner to recirculate air would not be allowed
because an air conditioner filter would not trap the small, harmful
asbestos particles. Taking dusty curtains "down slowly" would not be
sufficient under the national regulations to obviate the need for respiratory
protection, which was claimed by the NYC DOH. There are too many other
deficiencies of the NYC DOH guidelines to discuss here.
And, as discussed earlier, the EPA national regulations do not allow
individual residents or even building owners to plan or oversee their
own asbestos cleanup ? a trained certified professional with qualifications
specified in the national regulations themselves must be responsible.
The NYC DOH guidelines are contained on only two pages with fairly
large typeface. The combined EPA and OSHA regulations, recommended practices,
and supporting technical documents for asbestos control and removal
are contained in hundreds of pages.
EPA DIRECTS PARTIES TO USE THE LENIENT NYC DOH GUIDELINES
The EPA set up web pages to give information on its involvement with
the World Trade Center contamination problem and cleanup. These pages
direct people to the NYC DOH lenient guidelines instead of the strict
EPA national regulations.
Go to the EPA web site page titled "EPA Response to September 11"
Look at the box to the left on the web page which has active links. Look under "Documents" and choose the link titled "Summary Report for the Peer Review on the Use of Asbestos as a Surrogate Contaminant for Determining the Risk from Other Contaminants." Bring up that page.
You will see a map of Manhattan with green dots for the different
locations where EPA tested for asbestos. Click on any one of the green
dots. On the page that comes up, you will then see the following statement
by the EPA:
"If dust or debris from the World Trade Center site has entered homes,
schools or businesses, it should be cleaned thoroughly and properly
following the recommendations of the New York City Department of Health."
In my personal opinion, the EPA had the option, and also the obligation,
to direct all parties to the appropriate EPA national regulations for
asbestos cleanup, not to the lenient NYC DOH guidelines. In my personal
opinion, immediately upon reviewing the lenient NYC DOH guidelines for
cleanup of Trade Center dusts, the EPA should have taken steps to require
their change to be as strict as the EPA national regulations. If the
NYC DOH did not upgrade its guidelines, then, in my personal opinion,
the EPA should have publicly announced its intent to revoke New York's
authority to administer any asbestos control program, including issuing
lenient guidelines such as it did.
Bill Ravanesi MA, MPH
Boston Campaign Director
Health Care Without Harm
19 Pleasantview Ave.
Longmeadow, MA 01106
617-524-2366 Boston office
413-565-2315 residential office
413-565-2474 residential fax