Wednesday, May 11, 2005

EPA to sample dust from 150 NYC buildings due to 9/11 attacks


EPA to sample dust from 150 NYC buildings due to 9/11 attacks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dust samples from 150 New York buildings in lower Manhattan and part of Brooklyn are to be gathered by the Environmental Protection Agency to find out how much indoor contamination might remain from the collapse of the World Trade Center.

EPA officials released their near-final plan Tuesday, which they say will be used in deciding what should be cleaned and whether to launch a broader sampling and cleanup effort.

E. Timothy Oppelt, an EPA official in charge of agency research, said that by doing more sampling the agency can find out how far the contaminants extend and "whether or not they are present at levels of concern" that would require cleanups.

"If they are, we will clean those units — entire buildings if necessary — that pose a concern," he said.

The EPA said samples will be analyzed for lead, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), asbestos and manmade vitreous fibers (MMVF).

Residents and workers in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn sued the agency last year, saying it improperly allowed thousands of people to return to their homes and businesses and made misleading statements about air quality after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Of most concern to those filing suit were "potentially hazardous levels of asbestos and possibly other carcinogens and toxic substances."

EPA defended itself by praising the staff's monitoring and sampling of air, dust and river and drinking water as "remarkable feats." It says it provided thousands of respirators for response workers and cleaned and tested thousands of homes in lower Manhattan.

The agency, at the urging of the White House, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and New York City officials, convened an expert panel chaired by EPA's science adviser to monitor any residual health effects among workers and residents.