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Health effects of World Trade Center (WTC) Dust: An unprecedented disaster with inadequate risk management
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Details:
  • Pubmed ID:
    26058443
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC4686342
  • Description:
    The World Trade Center (WTC) twin towers in New York City collapsed on 9/11/2001, converting much of the buildings' huge masses into dense dust clouds of particles that settled on the streets and within buildings throughout Lower Manhattan. About 80-90% of the settled WTC Dust, ranging in particle size from ∼2.5 μm upward, was a highly alkaline mixture of crushed concrete, gypsum, and synthetic vitreous fibers (SVFs) that was readily resuspendable by physical disturbance and low-velocity air currents. High concentrations of coarse and supercoarse WTC Dust were inhaled and deposited in the conductive airways in the head and lungs, and subsequently swallowed, causing both physical and chemical irritation to the respiratory and gastroesophageal epithelia. There were both acute and chronic adverse health effects in rescue/recovery workers; cleanup workers; residents; and office workers, especially in those lacking effective personal respiratory protective equipment. The numerous health effects in these people were not those associated with the monitored PM2.5 toxicants, which were present at low concentrations, that is, asbestos fibers, transition and heavy metals, polyaromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs, and dioxins. Attention was never directed at the very high concentrations of the larger-sized and highly alkaline WTC Dust particles that, in retrospect, contained the more likely causal toxicants. Unfortunately, the initial focus of the air quality monitoring and guidance on exposure prevention programs on low-concentration components was never revised. Public agencies need to be better prepared to provide reliable guidance to the public on more appropriate means of exposure assessment, risk assessment, and preventive measures.

  • Document Type:
  • Collection(s):
  • Funding:
    ES000260/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS/United States
    OH008280/OH/NIOSH CDC HHS/United States
    P30 ES000260/ES/NIEHS NIH HHS/United States
    R01 OH008280/OH/NIOSH CDC HHS/United States
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