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General Topic Areas

Indoor remediation (34)
Misuse of EPA standards (17)
EPA's reponse (21)
Personal stories (3)
Government statements (34)
Expert opinions/Independent studies (36)
Rescue/recovery workers (18)
Government tests (33)
Deception (22)
Documented cases WTC-related illness (4)

Specific Issues and Cases

The Transfer of the EPA Ombudsman (22)
Asbestos removal in Libby, Montana (7)
USGS assessment (9)
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Environmental Impact of 9/11

 
  

Project: Environmental impact of 911 attacks

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Showing 1-100 of 248 events (use filters to narrow search):    next 100

1970

       A Senate report on Section 303 of the Clean Air Act states: “The levels of concentration of air pollution agents or combination of agents which substantially endanger health are levels which should never be reached in any community. When the prediction can reasonably be made that such elevated levels could be reached even for a short period of time—that is that they are imminent—an emergency action plan should be implemented.” [Nadler, 3/11/2003 Sources: Guidance on Use of Section 303 of the Clean Air Act, September 15, 1983]
          

1972

       With the passage of the Clean Water Act of 1972, the scope of the National Contingency Plan (NCP) is extended to cover hazardous substance releases in addition to oil spills. [EPA, n.d.] The NCP is a component of the US government's National Response System, “a multi-layered system of individuals and teams from local, state, and federal agencies, industry, and other organizations that share expertise and resources to ensure that oil spill control and cleanup activities are timely and efficient” and that threats to human health and the environment are minimized. [EPA website, 4/19/2004] When in effect, the plan is administered by the EPA, which is required by law to follow specific procedures and guidelines, including designating an “On-Scene Coordinator” (OSC), who is responsible for directing response efforts and coordinating all other efforts at the scene of a discharge or release. In the event that the EPA delegates any tasks to state or local authorities, the EPA is responsible for ensuring that the response is in accordance with EPA standards. [Jenkins, 7/4/2003; US Law, Title 40, Part 300]
          

April 1980

       The Asbestos Work Group, a joint effort between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), concludes that “[e]xcessive cancer risks ... have been demonstrated at all [asbestos] fiber concentrations studied to date. Evaluation of all available human data provides no evidence for a threshold or for a ‘safe’ level of asbestos exposure.” In very clear terms, the study adds that “there is no level of exposure below which clinical effects do not occur.” [Sources: Workplace Exposure to Asbestos, 4/1980]
People and organizations involved: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
          

November 24, 1984

       The EPA establishes the National Office of the Ombudsman under the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The amendment says the function of the new office is “to receive individual complaints, grievances, and problems submitted by any person with respect to any program or requirement under the RCRA.” The Ombudsman has the authority to decide which complaints to investigate, conduct an independent investigation of a complaint, assist the person or group that makes the complaint, and make non-binding recommendations to the EPA based on the ombudsman's findings. [US Senate, 6/25/2002; GAO, 2001 Sources: Robert J. Martin]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency
          

April 25, 1986

       The Toxic Substances Control Act is amended to include asbestos as a toxic substance. One section of the amendment notes that even at low concentrations, asbestos is not safe: “Available evidence supports the conclusion that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.... This conclusion is consistent with present theory of cancer etiology and is further supported by the many documented cases where low or short-term exposure has been shown to cause asbestos-related disease.... Most occupational studies have been conducted on populations exposed to high airborne concentrations of asbestos for long periods of time. However, short-term exposures have also been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma. In addition, there are many documented cases of mesothelioma linked to extremely brief exposures to high concentrations....” [Jenkins, 6/9/2002; Kupferman, 2003 Sources: Amendment to Toxic Substances Control Act]
          

February 16, 1988

       A final rule is issued on the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The rule states a “community right-to-know” public notification must be issued whenever there is a spill of any carcinogen in concentrations over 0.1 percent. [Sources: US Law, Title 40 Section 372.38]
          

September 30, 1988

       Congressional authorization of the EPA National Ombudsman office expires with the sunset of the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (see November 24, 1984). [National Council for Science and the Environment, n.d.]
          

September 1989

       The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues its Interim Asbestos NESHAP Enforcement Guidance on “Friable Asbestos,” which clarifies the definition and acceptable use of “asbestos-containing” materials. The National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), issued in 1973, defined “asbestos-containing materials,” or ACMs, as products that contain more than 1 percent asbestos by weight. Citing the original document, the guidance explains that NESHAP's purpose was to “ban the use of materials which contain significant quantities of asbestos, but to allow the use of materials which would (1) contain trace amounts of asbestos that occur in numerous natural substances, and (2) include very small quantities of asbestos (less than 1 percent) added to enhance the material's effectiveness.” However, the guidance stresses, the “EPA NESHAP definition of 1 percent by weight was not established to be a health-based standard.” [Sources: EPA 560/5-88-011, 9/1989]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency
          

November 20, 1990

       NESHAP regulations require use of the transmission electron microscopy (TEM) method to determine whether asbestos-derived wastes are asbestos free: “Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) shall be used to analyze the output material for the presence of asbestos.” In order to be considered “asbestos-free,” TEM results must indicate that the waste contains no asbestos. [US Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, sec. 61.155 cited in Jenkins, 3/11/2002] The TEM method is far superior to polarized light microscopy (PLM) testing, a less expensive method that is often used to test for the presence of asbestos in bulk building material. The PLM method is limited by relatively weak magnification (100-400x) and it is sometimes unable to distinguish asbestos material from other materials like tar and petroleum binding components that may also be present in the building material. As a result of these deficiencies, the PLM method cannot reliably detect asbestos at concentrations of less than 1 percent and it is incapable of detecting asbestos fibers that are less than .25 micrometers in width. [Jenkins, 3/11/2002] TEM uses 20,000X or greater magnifications as well as powerful chemical (EDXA) and mineralogical (SAEDP) tools. Not only can TEM differentiate asbestos from non-asbestos fibers, but it can also distinguish one species of asbestos from another. [International Asbestos Testing Lab, n.d.]
          

December 1990

       The EPA issues a pamphlet answering common questions on the Asbestos NESHAP regulations (see September 1989). One question asks: “Is there a numeric emission limit for the release of asbestos fibers during renovations or demolitions in the asbestos NESHAP regulation?” The EPA answers that although there is no numeric emission limit, NESHAP “does specify zero visible emissions to the outside air from activity relating to the transport and disposal of asbestos waste.” In other words, if any emissions are visible during transport or disposal, the level of asbestos is unsafe. [Sources: EPA, questions and answers on Neshap, 12/1990]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency
          

1991

       Following the expiration of Congressional authorization (see September 30, 1988) for the ombudsman office, the EPA decides to continue the program and expand the office's jurisdiction to include similar functions within the Superfund division. [US Senate, 6/25/2002]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency
          

1992

       The Federal Response Plan (FRP) is developed and becomes Public Law 93-288. The FRP provides “a process and structure for the systematic, coordinated, and effective delivery of Federal assistance to address the consequences of any major disaster or emergency declared under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.” The plan can be called into action by the president of the United States in times of emergency. Once invoked, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinates the efforts of any Emergency Support Functions (ESF) involved. In the event of a hazardous materials release, the EPA is charged with overseeing the federal government's response. The Federal Response Team (FRT) and Regional Response Teams (RRTs) are charged with “carry[ing] out their duties and responsibilities as put forth in the NCP [National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan] (see 1972) and agency implementing procedures.” [Sources: Emergency Support Function #10 Hazardous Materials Annex, Federal Response Plan]
          

October 18, 1992

       The EPA hires Robert J. Martin as the agency's National Ombudsman (see November 24, 1984). [US Senate, 6/25/2002]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Robert J. Martin
          

1993

       A study commissioned by the EPA, “Asbestos Fiber Reentrainment During Dry Vacuuming and Wet Cleaning of Asbestos-Contaminated Carpet,” finds that using HEPA vacuums and carpet shampooing in an effort to remove asbestos from carpets is ineffective and actually increases the air concentrations of asbestos. [Jenkins, 7/4/2003; Kominsky, J. R., and Freyberg, R. W., 1993]
          

1993

       A study commissioned by the EPA, “Evaluation of Three Cleaning Methods for Removing Asbestos from Carpet,” finds that available methods of asbestos removal from carpets and upholstery are incapable of effectively removing the fibers. “The wet cleaning method reduced the level of asbestos contamination in the carpet by approximately 60 percent, whereas neither dry cleaning method had any notable effect on the asbestos level,” the report says. [Jenkins, 7/4/2003; Kominsky, J. R., et al., 1993]
          

1994

       The EPA explains in a document setting guidelines for the decontamination of demolition sites that the “site must be cleaned up to background levels of asbestos contamination.” (The term, “background level” refers to the typical asbestos level of non-contaminated soil in that area.) The EPA adds that in order to “clean up the site to background levels, it will probably be necessary to remove all the asbestos contaminated soil. The contaminated soil should be treated and disposed of as asbestos-containing waste material.” [EPA, 1994 cited in Jenkins, 3/11/2002]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency
          

August 1, 1994

       The EPA issues an advisory specifying the methodology that should be used to test for asbestos in air samples under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA). The guidance recommends that transmission electron microscopy (TEM) be used rather than the older, less sensitive polarized light microscopy (PLM) method, which cannot detect ultrafine fibers below .25 micrometers. The advisory also states that when a PLM test is negative for asbestos, the sample should be retested using the TEM method. [Sources: Federal Register, 59 FR 38970, 8/1/1994]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency
          

1995

       A study of the health effects of vermiculite mining, a mineral which is sometimes found with asbestos (as in the case of the vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana (see November 18, 1999)), finds that soils with an asbestos level of only 0.001 percent can result in air concentrations of 0.01 fibers per milliliter (f/mL), if disturbed. This exceeds the EPA cancer risk level of 0.000004 f/mL, the typical background levels of asbestos in outdoor air of 0.000002 f/mL, and the typical background levels in indoor air of 0.000003 f/mL (PCM). [Addison, 1995 cited in Jenkins, 3/11/2002; Agency for Toxic Substances And Disease Registry, 10/9/2003]
          

January 1995

       The EPA designates 232 homes and businesses in Lorain County, Ohio as Superfund sites. The buildings had been illegally sprayed with the pesticide methyl parathion by an exterminator. [Disease Prevention News, 5/28/1998] The cleanup is performed by the EPA in collaboration with other federal agencies. “Many of the homes had to have wallboard, carpeting, and baseboards removed when repeated surface cleaning failed to remove trace amounts of methyl parathion,” a report in Environmental Health Perspectives explains. “Residents had to be temporarily relocated, personal items replaced, and transportation to schools and workplaces provided.” [Environmental Health Perspectives, 12/2002] The cleanup cost taxpayers more than $20 million. [Disease Prevention News, 5/28/1998]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency
          

August 23, 1996

       The current version of OSHA Regulation 1910.1001, “Polarized Light Microscopy of Asbestos—Non-Mandatory,” recommends the use of “transmission electron microscopy” (TEM) to test for the presence of asbestos instead of the older, less sensitive method, known as “polarized light microscopy” (PLM). The regulation notes that “TEM is a powerful tool to identify fibers too small to be resolved by light microscopy and should be used in conjunction with this method when necessary” and suggests that “when optical techniques [PLM] are inadequate, there is ample indication that alternative techniques [TEM and SEM] should be used for complete identification of the sample.” SEM, or “Scanning Electron Microscopy,” is another method that provides less analytical information about the asbestos fiber than TEM. [OSHA 1910.1001 App J, 8/23/1996]
          

November 1996

       The EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) discover more than 1,100 homes in Jackson County, Mississippi that were sprayed with methyl parathion illegally by Reuben Brown, an unlicensed exterminator. The EPA designates the homes as Superfund sites and oversees a $50 million cleanup. More than 1,600 people will be relocated during the cleanup. [Environmental Health Perspectives, 12/2002; Disease Prevention News, 5/28/1998; Jenkins, 7/4/2003]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Reuben Brown
          

April 1997

       The EPA designates more than 98 homes in the Chicago area as a Superfund site. The homes had been illegally sprayed with the pesticide methyl parathion by Reuben Brown, an unlicensed exterminator. The homes are decontaminated at a cost of around $7.5 million. [Environmental Health Perspectives, 12/2002; Disease Prevention News, 5/28/1998; Jenkins, 7/4/2003]
People and organizations involved: Reuben Brown, Environmental Protection Agency
          

November 18, 1999

       The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that at least 192 deaths and 375 incidents of fatal lung disease in Libby, Montana were caused by exposure to tremolite asbestos from a nearby vermiculite mine. The mine was operated by the company W.R. Grace Co. for 30 years until it was sold in 1990 to Kootenai Development Co. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/18/1999]
People and organizations involved: Kootenai Development Co., W.R. Grace Co.
          

November 21, 1999

       Three days after the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on asbestos contamination of homes in Libby, Montana (see November 18, 1999), the EPA dispatches an emergency response team to conduct tests to determine the level of asbestos contamination. For decades, local, state and federal agencies had ignored the known hazards at the Libby mine. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/2/2000; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 9/15/2000] Twenty-three of the 73 outdoor air samples the EPA team will take at various locations in Libby are found to contain elevated levels of tremolite—a type of asbestos that is extremely carcinogenic due to its needle-like and sharply pointed fibers which easily penetrate the lining of the lungs. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/2/2000] Random air sampling inside the homes of Libby residents reveals that 11 to 23 percent of the selected homes have detectable levels of asbestos. The average level of asbestos inside Libby homes is found to be 0.0024 fibers per milliliter (f/mL), which exceeds many times the EPA cancer risk level of 0.000004 f/mL. [Jenkins, 7/4/2003]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency
          

May 2000

       The EPA issues a publication which states that in the event of a terrorist attack causing the release of hazardous substances, the EPA would respond under the authority of the NCP (see 1972). “The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has statutory authorities and responsibilities to prepare for and respond to emergencies involving oil and hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants, which include chemical, biological and radiological materials that could also be components of a weapon of mass destruction (WMD).... EPA carries out its preparedness and response efforts primarily under the mandate of the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) and the Radiological Response Program.” [Sources: EPA publication, May 2000]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency
          

January 3, 2001

       The EPA publishes a “Draft Guidance for the National Hazardous Waste Ombudsman and the Regional Superfund Ombudsmen Program,” which attempts to “clarify” the National Ombudsman's function. [US Senate, 6/25/2002 Sources: Federal Register, Vol 66, No. 2, 1/3/2001] The current ombudsman, Robert Martin, argues that the guidelines are actually designed to limit the scope of the ombudsman's authority, by placing the office under the authority of the head of Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER), an EPA division the ombudsman may investigate. [The Washington Post, 11/29/2001]
People and organizations involved: Robert J. Martin, Environmental Protection Agency
          

June 18, 2001

       The EPA posts a “questions and answers” page about asbestos and the EPA's Libby investigation (see November 21, 1999) on its website. It includes only one question: “I recently read that EPA found less than 1 percent (or trace levels) asbestos at Fireman's Park and other locations that were sampled. Is that a safe level?” The EPA responds that levels of “1 percent or less may be safe” under certain circumstances, but notes that it “could present a risk where there is enough activity to stir up soil and cause asbestos fibers to become airborne” (see 1995). [EPA FAQ, 6/18/2001]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency
          

Mid-October, 2001

       Rich Regis, a Wall Street Journal editor, undergoes treatment for “kidney failure, a perforated colon and sepsis, a generalized infection of the body.” His doctors say that his ailments may have been caused by something he “inhaled or ingested” when he was caught in the debris storm caused by the collapse of the WTC. [NY Daily News, 10/25/01]
People and organizations involved: Rich Regis
          

July 27, 2001

       The General Accounting Office (GAO) issues a report on the National Ombudsman's office at the request of the Chairman of the House Sub-Committee on Environment and Hazardous Materials. [US Senate, 6/25/2002; House Sub-Committee on Environment and Hazardous Materials, 7/16/2002] The report criticizes the EPA's January guidance (see January 3, 2001) and concludes that the EPA's national and regional ombudsmen do not have sufficient autonomy. [The Washington Post, 11/29/2001] The GAO report recommends the following:
Strengthen the ombudsman's independence by moving the office outside of the solid waste program;

Provide the ombudsman with a separate budget and staff;

Increase the ombudsman's accountability by requiring the office to develop specific criteria for its investigations. [Sources: GAO, 7/27/2001]

People and organizations involved: General Accounting Office
          

August 2001

       The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issues its “Annual Report to Congress on Combating Terrorism” which reaffirms the EPA's responsibility to respond to any hazardous materials emergencies caused by terrorist attack and provide the affected public with all information relevant to their health and safety. The report observes that the EPA has “expertise in performing off-site monitoring, extent of contamination surveys, working with health officials to establish safe cleanup levels, conducting protective cleanup actions, and communicating technical information/data to impacted citizens...” Moreover, the OMB notes that “EPA's first responders (On-Scene Coordinators or OSCs) from all 10 regions have been actively involved with local, State, and Federal authorities in responding to threats of terrorism,” and that “EPA's response to such threats is an extension of its existing hazardous materials response capability developed over more than 30 years as a leader of the National Response System (see 1972).” [Martin, 3/27/2002 Sources: Office of Management and Budget, 8/2001]
People and organizations involved: US Congress
          

August 2001

       An environmental health study, the largest in US history, finds that as many as 30 percent of the 5,590 adult residents tested in Libby, Montana have lung abnormalities (see November 21, 1999). This figure is as much as 150 times greater than what is normal for people with no known asbestos exposure. All of the tested adults had at one time worked or lived in Libby before the W.R. Grace Co. vermiculite mine closed in 1990. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 8/24/2000]
People and organizations involved: W.R. Grace Co.
          

(August 2001)

       The EPA begins removing asbestos from private homes in Libby, Montana where a nearby mining operation contaminated the surrounding area (see November 21, 1999). The EPA conducts the cleanup operation under the authority of the National Contingency Plan (NCP) (see 1972). [Jenkins, 12/3/2001; Jenkins, 1/11/2002; Kupferman, 2003; EPA, n.d.] In some cases, it will be necessary for the EPA to take extreme measures to ensure that asbestos levels in certain homes meet EPA standards. For example, the agency will have to completely demolish one home and rebuild it after the standard procedures of replacing carpets, upholstered furniture, and professional abatement fail to reduce the presence of asbestos to an acceptable level. [Jenkins, 7/4/2003]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency
          

(9:59 a.m.-11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001

       Scientists who work for the US Geological Survey watch the World Trade Center towers collapse on their television sets. “We sat at home, watched that gray-white cloud roll over Lower Manhattan, and knew damned well that the dust was going to hurt a lot of people,” Gregg Swayze, a USGS geophysicist, will later tell the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I knew we had the best technology in the world to determine precisely what was in that dust.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02] Swayze and other USGS scientists quickly get to work making arrangements to use USGS and NASA equipment to determine the composition of the dust clouds (see September 12, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Gregg Swayze
          

September 7, 2001)

       EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman tells residents at a town hall meeting in Libby, Montana, a designated Superfund Site where the EPA is remediating asbestos contamination (see (August 2001)), “It has never been our plan to look to you to pay for any part of this cleanup, including the cleanup of residential properties.” [EPA, 9/7/2001]
People and organizations involved: Christine Todd Whitman
          

(Afternoon September 11, 2001-October 6, 2001)

       During the first 25 days of the rescue/recovery effort at the World Trade Center site, 800 policemen are provided with only paper masks. Printed on each of the masks is a disclaimer stating: “Warning, this mask does not protect your lungs.” [The Guardian, 6/5/2002]
          

(Afternoon September 11, 2001)-July 18, 2002

       The EPA sets up more than 30 fixed air-quality monitors in and around Ground Zero as well as regional monitors in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island to test for the presence of certain contaminants. [Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.; Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.] More than 30 such air monitors are also positioned at various locations in the Staten Island Landfill, where the WTC debris will be taken. [Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.] Additionally, both the EPA and OSHA operate portable sampling equipment to collect data from a variety of other surrounding locations. [Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.; Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.; Environmental Protection Agency, 7/18/2002] The equipment, however, does not test the air for fiberglass, a common building material and a known carcinogen [Occupational Hazards, 1/25/02] , or mercury in airborne dusts (although they do test for mercury in its vapor state). [Jenkins, 7/4/2003] Critics will argue that monitoring outdoor air is insufficient since it will ultimately be diluted because of wind and diffusion—unlike indoor air, which clings to fabrics and is trapped within walls. [International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, 1/21/02] Aside from a few exceptions (see September 13, 2001-September 19, 2001), the EPA will use the outdated polarized light microscopy (PLM) testing method for counting asbestos fibers instead of electron microscope technology (see September 12, 2001) which provides far more accurate results. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/28/01; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/14/2004]
People and organizations involved: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Environmental Protection Agency  Additional Info 
          

(Afternoon) September 11, 2001

       The New York City Department of Health issues an alert titled, “Terrorist Attack at the World Trade Center in New York City: Medical and Public Health Issues of Urgent Concern.” The notice contains various instructions for the medical community including a “Smoke and Dust Advisory” urging “individuals who have a history of heart and lung conditions or are in areas where smoke or dust is visible ... to remain indoors with the windows shut and air conditioners on recirculate or turned off.” [Centers for Disease Control, 9/11/01; New York City Department of Health, 9/11/2001]
People and organizations involved: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York City Department of Health
          

After September 11, 2001

       The EPA assigns the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with the task of ensuring that Lower Manhattan homes and businesses are safe for re-occupation. The EPA is bound by the National Contingency Plan (NCP) to see that the City of New York adheres to, and enforces, all EPA standards (see 1972). [Jenkins, 7/4/2003; US Law, Title 40, Part 300] The city, in turn, will leave the job of testing and cleanup to the building owners and residents themselves. Neither the city nor the EPA will inform them of the federal regulations that govern asbestos testing and abatement. Instead, the City's health department will provide residents, landlords, and building owners with a tip sheet consisting of instructions “for people reoccupying commercial buildings and residences” that is completely wrong (see September 16, 2001) (see September 17, 2001). [The Wall Street Journal, 5/9/2002; Nadler, 3/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Hugh Granger
          

(8:50 a.m. EST) September 11, 2001

       The Environmental Protection Agency's Region 2 office in Edison, NJ, dispatches three On-Scene Coordinators (OSCs) within minutes of the first plane crashing into the WTC Tower. [EPA, 10/21/2001] The OSCs are job functions specific to the National Contingency Plan (NCP) and therefore indicate that the NCP is in effect and that the EPA is acting under its authority. The OSCs will be involved in the agency's response to the disaster at least until October 2002. [Jenkins, 7/4/2003; Martin, 3/27/2002] But the EPA will imply in later statements and documents that the NCP had not been put into effect after the attacks (see August 21, 2003) .
          

9:17 a.m. EST, September 11, 2001

       The Federal Aviation Administration closes down New York Metro area airports. [CNN, 9/11/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

9:21 a.m. EST

       The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey orders all bridges and tunnels in the area of New York City closed. [CNN, 9/11/01]
          

9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001 and 10:28 a.m. September 11, 2001

       The World Trade Center twin towers collapse—the south tower at 9:59 a.m. and the north tower half an hour later at 10:28 a.m. [New York Times, 9/12/01; AP, 8/19/02; CNN, 9/12/01; MSNBC, 9/22/01; New York Times, 9/12/01; Washington Post, 9/12/01] The collapses create huge dust clouds that roll through the streets of Lower Manhattan, breaking windows and forcing dust and debris into the interior of surrounding buildings.
Composition of dust - Chemicals and materials present in the billowing clouds include pulverized plaster, paint, foam, glass fibers and fragments, fiberglass, cement, vermiculite (used as a fire retardant instead of asbestos), chrysotile asbestos, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls, polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans, pesticides, phthalate esters, brominated diphenyl ethers, cotton fibers and lint, tarry and charred wood, soot, rubber, paper and plastic. [Environmental Perspectives, 7/2002; Chemical and Engineering News, 10/20/2003; CNN, 11/4/2001; Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Online, 9/15/2001]
The dust has an extremely high pH. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02]
Distribution of dust and debris - The debris will be distributed very unevenly throughout the city because of their varying weights. Dusts containing relatively heavy components, such as pulverized concrete and glass, will settle near the World Trade Center, whereas dust containing lighter components, like asbestos, will fall to the ground in greater relative concentrations at a further distance. Heavy metals—including zinc, strontium, lead and aluminum—will also be deposited a relatively large distance away from the disaster site. [Jenkins, 7/4/2003; Environmental Health Perspectives, 7/2002]

Composition of smoke/debris plume - Combustible materials buried in the rubble of the towers will provide fuel for a fire that will burn until December. Many of the materials are made of substances that when burned release highly toxic fumes. According to Thomas Cahill, a professor of physics and engineering, “The debris pile acted like a chemical factory. It cooked together the components and the buildings and their contents, including enormous numbers of computers, and gave off gases of toxic metals, acids, and organics for at least six weeks.” [Reuters, 9/11/2003]

The two towers contained as many as 50,000 personal computers, each containing small amounts of mercury and about 4 lbs of lead. The towers also contained roughly 300 mainframe computers. [Kupferman, 2003; Natural Resources Defense Council, February 2002]

Thousands of fluorescent lamps in the buildings contained mercury. [Kupferman, 2003; Natural Resources Defense Council, February 2002]

Thousands of chairs and other office furniture contained chemicals like polybrominated diphenyl ethers, which pose dangers similar to PCBs. [Natural Resources Defense Council, February 2002]

Several of the WTC's tenants are known to have had toxic materials on site. For example, there was a Secret Service shooting range that kept millions of rounds of lead ammunition on hand. And a US Customs lab had in its inventory thousands of pounds of arsenic, lead, mercury, chromium, and other toxic substances. [Kupferman, 2003]

Other products in the buildings included synthetic fabrics, plastics, laminates, the di-electric fluids that encase electrical cables, capacitors, electrical cable insulation and transformers. The toxins resulting from the combustion of these materials include toxic lead, volatile organic compounds, dioxins (see December 27, 2002), mercury, nickel, vandium, sulphur, PAHs, PCBs and furans. [Natural Resources Defense Council, February 2002]

Distribution of smoke/debris plume - The aerosol plume will move from the WTC site in Lower Manhattan directly over Brooklyn where it will drop much of its toxic debris, contaminating the neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Park Slope and beyond. New York City Council member David Yassky, who is in Brooklyn campaigning on this day, will later recount in an interview with Newsday, “ There was a film of dust on everything—on cars, stores, everywhere in Brooklyn Heights. If you were there, as I was, you saw several hours of debris rain down on your neighborhood.” [Newsday, 9/30/2002; Newsday, 8/23/2002]

          

(Between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. September 11, 2001)

       A dust sample is taken by EPA employees as they flee the collapsing buildings. The samples are later tested and found to contain an asbestos level of 4.5 percent. [Minnesota Start Tribune, 9/14/2001; Newsweek, 9/14/2001]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency
          

10:53 a.m. September 11, 2001

       New York's primary elections, which are in progress, are postponed. [CNN, 9/12/2001]
People and organizations involved: George E. Pataki
          

10:57 a.m. September 11, 2001

       Governor of New York George Pataki closes all state government offices. [CNN, 9/12/2001]
People and organizations involved: George E. Pataki
          

11:02 a.m. September 11, 2001

       New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani urges New Yorkers to stay at home and orders the evacuation of the area south of Canal Street. [The Washington Post, 9/12/01; CNN, 9/12/2001]
People and organizations involved: Rudolph ("Rudy") Giuliani
          

11:16 a.m. September 11, 2001

       CNN reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing emergency-response teams as a precaution. [CNN, 9/11/01]
People and organizations involved: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
          

2:49 p.m. September 11, 2001

       Mayor Giuliani announces that the New York City subway and bus service has been partially restored. [CRTV, 11/09/2001]
People and organizations involved: Rudolph ("Rudy") Giuliani
          

5:20 p.m. September 11, 2001

       The 47-story WTC Building 7 collapses. It housed New York City's emergency command center, offices of the FBI, CIA, and various commercial offices. The collapse of the building buries an electrical substation containing more than 130,000 gallons of oil from transformers and high-voltage lines—most of which contain low levels of hazardous PCBs—that will provide fuel for a fire that will burn for more than three months contaminating the city's air with a number of toxins including dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans and other polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. [Alexander's Gas & Oil Connections, 1/9/02; Kupferman, 2003; Stanford Report, 12/5/01; The Washington Post, 9/12/01; Environmental Law, 12/26/2001; New York Daily News, 11/27/2001; New York Daily News, 11/29/2001 Sources: letter, 11/26/01]
          

6:10 p.m. September 11, 2001

       Mayor Rudolph Giuliani urges New Yorkers to stay home the following day. [CRTV, 11/09/2001]
People and organizations involved: Rudolph ("Rudy") Giuliani
          

(9:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001

       New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani says in an interview with CNN's Larry King: “The Health Department has done tests and at this point it is not a concern. So far, all the tests we have done do not show undue amounts of asbestos or any particular chemical agent that you have to be concerned about.” [Healthline News, 9/15/2001; ABC News, 9/13/2001; CNN, 9/11/2001]
People and organizations involved: Rudolph ("Rudy") Giuliani
          

9:57 p.m. September 11, 2001

       Mayor Giuliani announces that New York City schools will be closed the following day. He explains that power is out on west side of Manhattan and that NYC Department of Health (DOH) tests indicate that no airborne chemical agents were released during attack. [CNN, 9/12/2001]
People and organizations involved: Rudolph ("Rudy") Giuliani
          

(September 12, 2001-September 16, 2002)

       Samples from water runoff into the Hudson and East Rivers indicate elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin, asbestos and metals. [Environmental Protection Agency, 10/3/2001]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency
          

September 12, 2001

       Roger Clark, the astrophysicist who heads the US Geological Survey (USGS)'s portion of the AVIRIS program in Denver, contacts Robert Green, head of the AVIRIS program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. (The AVIRIS, or Airborne Visible Infrared Spectrometer, is a remote-sensing unit used by NASA to determine the chemical composition of a planet's surface and atmosphere by analyzing the infrared signatures of minerals that are reflected from the ground and comparing them with the unique peaks and curves of the signatures of thousands of minerals and materials in the USGS database. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02] AVIRIS has been used before to scan Superfund toxic sites to map hot spots of harmful substances.) [New York Times, 9/17/2002] He asks Green for NASA permission to use the AVIRIS over New York City and parts of New Jersey to determine the chemical composition of the dust and debris resulting from the collapse of the World Trade Center. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02] NASA gives the go-ahead on September 13 (see September 13, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Roger Clark, Robert Green
          

(September 12, 2001)

       The City of New York samples air at Centre and Chambers St. (7 blocks Northeast of Ground Zero perimeter, east of Broadway) and Spruce and Gold St. (7 to 8 blocks Northeast of Ground Zero perimeter, east of Broadway). Both of these sites are upwind from the World Trade Center disaster site. TEM tests reveal that these air samples have high levels of asbestos fibers suspended in the air—123.73 s/mm2 at Centre and Chambers St., and 157.48 s/mm2 at Spruce and Gold St. [Jenkins, 7/15/2004] Neither the City of New York nor the EPA will warn residents about these alarming asbestos levels. When the city publishes results of its polarized light microscopy (PLM) tests on October 24 (see (October 24, 2001)), it does not include these sampling results, or even mention that tests were performed at this location. Similarly, when it publishes the results of the transmission electron microscopy (TEM) tests on its website in early 2002 (see Early 2002), this data is again left out. However, this data is given to the State of New York on November 13 (see November 13, 2001). Cate Jenkins, a senior chemist in the EPA's Hazardous Waste Identification Division, will later suggest that the omission was intentional in order to obscure the fact that contamination was occurring considerably north of Ground Zero. [Jenkins, 7/15/2004] The City of New York will not return to these locations to conduct additional monitoring so there is no additional data on contamination in these locations. [Jenkins, 7/15/2004]
          

12:40:37, September 25, 2001

       Barbara Rubin, a resident of Lower Manhattan, emails the EPA asking the agency specific questions about air quality in New York City. Rubin explains in her email that she suffers from severe asthma. She asks:
“What are the parameters of the hot zone and the warm zone geographically?”

“What are the current particulate matter concentrations being found right now in Manhattan versus outlying areas. How does it compare with previous counts?”

“Does the sampling separately analyze primary versus secondary particulate concentrations of PM [particulate] in the air? What results have been found?”

“Is anything known about what chemicals are bound to the soot and dust from such sources as the burning jet fuel, smoldering furnishings, plastics, electrical wire, fiberglass etc.?”

“With regard to health issues, does the EPA have any guidelines about recommending such protections as particulate masks when PM is in excess of certain levels? As you know, the use of bronchodilators to relieve asthmatic symptoms just leaves lung tissue open for deeper invasions by more allergens and foreign bodies (PM). The resulting inflammation requires steroids and the cycle just repeats itself.”
The EPA's response directs her to the agency's website, which does not contain the answers to her questions. [EPA, 9/25/01]
People and organizations involved: Barbara Rubin
          

(September 12, 2001)

       EPA Region 2 decides that it will use a benchmark of 1 percent in determining whether the asbestos level found in outdoor dust samples collected in and around the WTC site constitutes a “level of concern.” The figure apparently derives from the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) (see September 1989), which defines products containing more than 1 percent asbestos by weight as “asbestos-containing materials” (ACM). The NESHAP one percent definition is not based on safety, but rather is the detection limit of the Polarized Light Method (PLM) for determining asbestos levels (see August 23, 1996) (see November 20, 1990). The EPA will be heavily criticized for selecting this percentage as its “level of concern” benchmark. Critics will argue:
The one percent value is arbitrary because it is not based on safety. Furthermore, it was meant to be applied only to solid asbestos-containing products that do not release emissions (like dust).

As the EPA has previously acknowledged, there is no safe exposure level to asbestos (see April 25, 1986) (see September 1989).

Measuring dust by percentage weight does not allow one to accurately assess the risk to public health because it does not determine the number of asbestos structures in a given area. For example, a sidewalk coated with 4 inches of dust containing .5 percent asbestos is much more of a health risk than a tablespoon's worth of dust on the ground containing 2 percent asbestos because the former obviously has many more structures of asbestos. A person walking on the street would inhale more asbestos fibers walking through the 4 inches of asbestos-contaminated dust than stepping on just the tablespoon's worth. [Jenkins, 6/9/2002]
In fact, the EPA has previously acknowledged in an official statement to the public that levels “of 1 percent or less could present a risk where there is enough activity to stir up soil and cause asbestos fibers to become airborne” (see June 18, 2001). Additionally, a study in 1995 on the health effects of vermiculite found that soils with an asbestos level of only 0.001 percent can result in air concentrations of 0.01 fibers per milliliter, which exceeds many times the EPA cancer risk level of 0.000004 f/mL (see 1995) that corresponds to a cancer risk factor of 10
          

(September 12, 2001-September 29, 2001)

       According to documents that the City of New York later provides to New York State, between eighteen and fifty-two percent of New York City's transmission electron microscopy (TEM) tests (see November 20, 1990) performed during this period indicate asbestos levels of over 70 structures/sq. millimeter (s/mm2). Many of these high test results are based on air samples taken several blocks from Ground Zero. [Jenkins, 7/15/2004] This figure is similar to the one that Walter E. Mugdan, the Regional Counsel for EPA Region 2, will provide in a speech to the New York Bar Association in January 2002. “Around 35 percent of the samples of bulk dust taken in Lower Manhattan in the first few days after the collapse exceeded the 1 percent level,” he will say.
          

(September 12, 2001-December 31, 2001)

       The White House's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) dictates the content of EPA press releases to the EPA's Public Information Officer in a series of emails. “100 percent of what CEQ added was added: 100 percent of what CEQ deleted was deleted,” an internal EPA investigation will later report. [EPA IG, 1/27/2003 cited in Jenkins, 7/4/2003]
People and organizations involved: Council on Environmental Quality
          

September 12, 2001

       The City of New York hires LZA Associates and Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers to put together a team of engineers and contractors to inspect the World Trade Center and surrounding structures in order to help ensure the safety of rescue workers. [Civil Engineering Magazine, November 2001]
People and organizations involved: Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers, LZA Associates
          

September 12, 2001

       During a conference call, EPA Region 8 offers Region 2 free use of 30 to 40 electron microscopes, along with analysts, to test bulk dust samples in New York City. [Sources: Jenkins, 3/11/2002] EPA Region 8 has a contract with EMSL Laboratories for the microscopes, which they are using to evaluate soils at the Libby, Montana cleanup site (see (August 2001)) . Region 8 says they can get twelve of the scopes to Manhattan the next day. But William Muszynski, Region 2's Acting Administrator, rejects the offer in less than polite terms. “We don't want you fucking cowboys here,” Muszynski is later alleged to have said. “The best thing they could do is transfer you to Alaska.” [Sources: Jenkins, 3/11/2002, Jenkins, 7/4/2003] Instead, the EPA and other federal and city government agencies will use the outdated polarized light microscopy (PLM) testing method (see November 20, 1990) to test for the presence of asbestos fibers. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/14/2004; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/28/01]
People and organizations involved: William Muszynski
          

September 12, 2001

       The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) begins monitoring ambient outdoor air for asbestos. [New York City Department of Health, 9/12/01] Couriers transport the air samples to laboratories, which immediately analyze them and obtain results within hours. [Jenkins, 7/15/2004] The samples are tested using the outdated polarized light microscopy (PLM) technology (see September 12, 2001) . [Kupferman, 2003]
People and organizations involved: The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Environmental Protection Agency
          

September 12, 2001

       Tina Kreisher, a spokeswoman for the EPA, says, “At the moment, we really don't detect any real danger.” [Healthline News, 9/15/2001; ABC News, 9/13/2001]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Tina Kreisher
          

September 12, 2001

       US Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announces his agency's emergency response: “CDC has a team on the ground taking air, dust and water samples. This is of utmost concern to health officials. Also, Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams will ensure that the process of removing bodies is conducted as safely as possible, and identifications occur as efficiently as possible. The heavy dust that has coated Lower Manhattan following the attack also poses respiratory risks, particularly to our children and elderly citizens. We are well aware that New York has one of the highest childhood asthma rates in the nation, and CDC officials are working with New York authorities to conduct tests and protect our vulnerable residents from high levels of dust in the air.” [US Health and Human Services, 9/12/2001]
People and organizations involved: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Health and Human Services (HSS), Tommy G. Thompson
          

September 12, 2001 12:00 p.m. EST

       New York City construction firms begin cleaning up debris at the World Trade Center site that was strewn over a 12-block area. [New York City Construction News, 9/12/2001]
          

(September 13, 2001)

       Phillip Landrigan, chairman of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, and a leading expert on occupational diseases, tells the Minnesota Star Tribune that acute exposure to dust and soot could cause bronchitis, eye injuries and asthma-like breathing difficulties in the short term. Landrigan says that workers who inhale the dust increase their risk of developing life-threatening asbestos-related lung diseases, like mesothelioma, an incurable cancer. [Minnesota Start Tribune, 9/14/2001]
People and organizations involved: Phillip Landrigan
          

(September 13, 2001)

       EPA administrator Christie Whitman recommends that New Yorkers who evacuated their homes after the collapse of the World Trade Center “vacuum everything, including air conditioning filters, and wipe all surfaces with a damp cloth,” Newsweek reports. [Jenkins, 7/4/2003; Newsweek, 9/14/2001] The recommendation is made despite two studies completed for the EPA in 1993 demonstrating that HEPA vacuums do not effectively remove asbestos from carpets and upholstery (see 1993) and that vacuuming actually increases asbestos levels in the air during use (see 1993).
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Christine Todd Whitman
          

September 13, 2001

       The New York City Department of Health (DOH) issues its second alert since the fall of the towers. The update, titled, “Terrorist Attack at the World Trade Center in New York City: Medical and Public Health Issues of Urgent Concern,” warns the Manhattan public: “Asbestos was used in the construction of the World Trade Center. Tests performed indicate that asbestos may be present in an area marked by Worth St. to the North, Centre and Nassau Sts. to the East, and Exchange and Thames Sts. to the South.” [New York City Department of Health, 9/13/2001 01] The DOH report goes on to say that the “health risk posed by a single exposure of short duration is very low” and that the “risk to persons who have not been present in the affected area following the disaster is also thought to be extremely low.” [New York City Department of Health, 9/13/2001 01]
People and organizations involved: New York City Department of Health
          

September 13, 2001-September 19, 2001

       EPA Region 2 hires an industrial hygienist to test the lobby of its building at 290 Broadway St. for the presence of asbestos. The building is located 6 blocks northeast of the World Trade Center site. Some of the settled dust samples collected with a micro-vac and analyzed using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) reveal the presence of chrysotile asbestos. Light microscope tests are also used to analyze the dust, but these tests turn up negative. [Jenkins, 7/4/2003; Jenkins, 3/11/2002; Kupferman, 2003] Air monitoring also reveals the presence of asbestos:
20 s/mm [Jenkins, 7/15/2004]

20 s/mm [Jenkins, 7/15/2004]

60 s/mm [Jenkins, 7/15/2004]

60 s/mm [Jenkins, 7/15/2004]
The discovery of asbestos at the building prompts EPA Region 2 to have the building professionally abated. [Jenkins, 3/11/2002; Kupferman, 2003; Jenkins, 7/4/2003] The EPA later states that micro-vac collection of dust samples (one of the preferred methods of obtaining samples) and TEM testing are not necessary for schools and residences in Lower Manhattan. At 105 Duane Street, the EPA will even discount results obtained by micro-vac collection and TEM tests when they contradict the agency's own results (see December 3, 2001). [The Wall Street Journal, 5/9/2002; Kupferman, 2003; Jenkins, 7/4/2003; Nadler, 3/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency
          

September 13, 2001

       EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announces that the EPA is monitoring levels of airborne contaminants in and around the area of Manhattan. She says that samples so far are “reassuring about potential exposure of rescue crews and the public to environmental contaminants.” The tests “found either no asbestos or very low levels of asbestos.” In Brooklyn, which is directly in the WTC smoke plume's path (see 9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001 and 10:28 a.m. September 11, 2001), she says that “levels of lead, asbestos and volatile organic compounds in air samples ... were not detectable or not of concern.” [Environmental Protection Agency, 9/13/01] However, her statements contradict results from transmission electron microscopy (TEM) tests that were conducted the previous day (see (September 12, 2001)).
People and organizations involved: Christine Todd Whitman, Environmental Protection Agency
          

(September 13, 2001)

       A fact sheet issued by the New York City Department of Health states that dust and ash from the WTC collapse contains “trace amounts of asbestos” and denies that short term exposure poses a health risk. “Based on the asbestos test results received thus far, the general public's risk for any short or long term adverse health affects are extremely low,” the notice claims. [New York City Department of Health, 9/22/2001]
People and organizations involved: New York City Department of Health
          

September 13, 2001

       Robert Green, head of the AVIRIS program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, informs Roger Clark, the astrophysicist who heads the US Geological Survey (USGS)'s portion of the AVIRIS program in Denver, that NASA will permit the USGS team to use AVIRIS in an attempt to determine the chemical composition of the dust and debris that resulted from the collapse of the World Trade Center (see September 12, 2001). The crew will mount the unit to a de Havilland Twin Otter prop plane owned by NASA, which will make several passes over the WTC and surrounding area. “The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy ... signed off on the flight. And the Air Force [has] agreed not to shoot the Twin Otter down,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch will later report. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Robert Green, Roger Clark
          

September 14, 2001

       EPA and OSHA announce that the majority of air and dust samples monitored in New York's financial district “do not indicate levels of concern for asbestos” and that ambient air quality “meets OSHA standards.” The two agencies also say that OSHA has new data indicating that indoor air quality in downtown buildings “will meet standards.” The agencies' conclusions are based on samples taken on September 13. “OSHA staff walked through New York's Financial District ... wearing personal air monitors and collected data on potential asbestos exposure levels. All but two samples contained no asbestos.... Air samples taken ... inside buildings in New York's financial district were negative for asbestos. Debris samples collected outside buildings on cars and other surfaces contained small percentages of asbestos, ranging from 2.1 to 3.3—slightly above the 1 percent trigger for defining asbestos material.” [Environmental Protection Agency, 9/14/01; Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 9/14/01] But the EPA improperly implies that the one percent level is a safety benchmark (see (September 12, 2001)), even though it had previously acknowledged that airborne asbestos particles are unsafe at any level (see September 14, 2001). Furthermore, its test results are not accurate, as they are based on the outdated polarized light microscopy (PLM) testing method, which is incapable of identifying fine fibers and which cannot reliably detect asbestos when it is present in concentrations below one percent (see November 20, 1990).
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
          

September 14, 2001

       EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman is quoted by Newsweek saying that the smoke plume at the World Trade Center disaster site is “not a health problem.” She says: “We have found particulate matter in the air, but other than being an irritant to those people who are out there breathing it deeply that's why people are wearing protective gear and masks it is not a problem for the general population.” [Newsweek website, 9/14/2001 cited in Jenkins, 7/4/2003]
People and organizations involved: Christine Todd Whitman, Environmental Protection Agency
          

September 14, 2001

       John L. Henshaw, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, states: “Our tests show that it is safe for New Yorkers to go back to work in New York's financial district. Keeping the streets clean and being careful not to track dust into buildings will help protect workers from remaining debris.” [EPA, 9/14/2001]
People and organizations involved: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), John L. Henshaw
          

(September 14, 2001)

       Allergists urge New Yorkers with lung disease to use caution in Lower Manhattan. Dr. Daniel Mayer, MD, president of the New York Allergy Society, is quoted in Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Online, “I recommend that people with chronic lung conditions and allergies don't go near the site.” [American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, allergy]
People and organizations involved: Daniel Mayer
          

September 14, 2001

       Rainstorms in New York City produce run-off with “elevated PCB and dioxin levels.” [EPA, 9/22/01]
          

September 14, 2001

       The New York City Department of Environmental Protection recommends in a memo to building owners in Lower Manhattan that they use the polarized light microscopy (PLM) method to determine the asbestos contamination level in their buildings instead of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) which is far more accurate (see November 20, 1990). [The Wall Street Journal, 5/9/2002]
People and organizations involved: The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
          

September 14, 2001

       EPA spokeswoman Bonnie Bellow says, “There's nothing at this point that indicates that business can't resume” in the Wall Street area on Monday as scheduled. [Newsday, 9/15/2001; Newsday, 9/15/2001 cited in Jenkins, 7/4/2003]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Bonnie Bellow
          

September 14, 2001

       US Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announces after meetings in New York with NY State Governor George Pataki and NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani that the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) will send 35 EIS officers to New York hospitals to assist “health officials and physicians monitor diseases, conduct a medical and health needs assessment, identify existing health problems, such as dust or allergic reactions, determine if there are new medical needs, and if already deployed resources are better used elsewhere.” [US Department of Health and Human Services, 9/14/01]
People and organizations involved: George E. Pataki, Rudolph ("Rudy") Giuliani, Tommy G. Thompson, US Health and Human Services (HSS)
          

10:02 a.m. GMT, September 14, 2001

       The New Scientist reports concerns that Manhattan residents are at serious risk from smoke and airborne contaminants including carcinogenic asbestos. Michelle De Leo of the British Lung Foundation advises people to “minimize exposure as much as possible by avoiding the area” or by using respiratory protection. Small dust particles easily penetrate the respiratory system, collecting in remote portions of the lung, and resulting in scarring. “This impairs lung function and is permanent,” De Leo of the British Lung Foundation explains. “Reducing exposure as much as possible is vitally important.” Other experts warn that toxic fumes from burning furniture in the towers pose additional risks. [New Scientist, 9/14/01]
People and organizations involved: Michelle De Leo
          

September 15, 2001

       EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman says with regard to Manhattan's air quality, “[T]here is no reason for concern.” She says that her agency is regularly sampling airborne particles and that findings indicate that most locations have an asbestos level of less than one percent—the amount above which the EPA considers a material to be “asbestos-containing” —but notes that the highest recorded reading so far was 4.5 percent (see (Between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. September 11, 2001)). [Newsday, 9/16/01] But the EPA is wrong to use the one percent level as if it were a safety benchmark (see (September 12, 2001)). Furthermore, its test results are not accurate, as they are based on the outdated polarized light microscopy (PLM) testing method which is incapable of identifying fine fibers and which cannot reliably detect asbestos when it is present in concentrations below one percent (see November 20, 1990).
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Christine Todd Whitman
          

September 16, 2001

       The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) publishes a “fact sheet” on the dust and debris that blanketed surrounding streets and penetrated numerous buildings during the collapse of the World Trade Center. The first section, titled, “What is in the dust,” states only: “Dust is a mixture of very fine particles that originally made-up the materials of the WTC and the aircraft that struck it. These particles differ depending on what material the dust came from, how the dust was created, and what happened to the dust after it was released. Analysis of dust samples will provide information on components of the dust. We expect that materials that would be present would be at concentrations lower than those normally associated with health effects.” The flyer makes no effort to name the toxic chemicals and other harmful substances that were known to have been in the two towers. [Kupferman, 2003; US Department of Health and Human Services, 9/16/2001]
People and organizations involved: US Health and Human Services (HSS)
          

September 16, 2001

       The EPA and OSHA release a joint statement asserting that the air in downtown New York City is safe to breathe. “[N]ew samples confirm previous reports that ambient air quality meets OSHA standards and consequently is not a cause for public concern,” the agencies claim. [EPA, 9/16/01] But it is later learned that the press release had been heavily edited under pressure from the White House's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Critical passages in the original draft were either deleted or modified to downplay public health risks posed by contaminants that were released into the air during the collapse of the World Trade Center. [Newsday, 8/26/03; EPA Office of Inspector General, 8/21/2003]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Council on Environmental Quality
          

September 16, 2001

       The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issues a public notice advising building owners and building maintenance managers located south of 14th Street to replace filters in air circulation systems and to run their systems on the recirculation mode until fires at the World Trade Center are extinguished. The agency also recommends that owners and managers contract professionals to test their buildings for the presence of asbestos and other hazardous materials prior to beginning cleanup by maintenance employees. If the presence of harmful contaminants are detected, they must telephone the DEP, where a staff employee will review each case and provide verbal approval. [New York City Department of Health, 9/16/01]
People and organizations involved: The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
          

12:00 p.m. September 16, 2001-2:00 a.m. September 17, 2001

       NASA's de Havilland Twin Otter propeller plane makes 14 passes over the region affected by the WTC collapse. The infrared-scanning AVIRIS unit, located underneath the plane, records infrared signatures of minerals reflected from the ground (see September 12, 2001). After the flight, the data tapes are sent to NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena where NASA scientists Robert Green and Frank Loiza are waiting to review the data. The tapes arrive 2 a.m. the next morning. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Robert Green, Frank Loiza
          

September 17, 2001

       NASA scientists, Robert Green and Frank Loiza, perform the first analysis of the AVIRIS data (see 12:00 p.m. September 16, 2001-2:00 a.m. September 17, 2001) and determine that there are a total of 34 fires burning at the World Trade Center site with temperatures ranging from 800 degrees to 1,000 degrees. They pass this and all subsequent data to the White House and other government agencies that are involved in responding to the environmental impact of the attacks. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Robert Green, Frank Loiza
          

September 17, 2001-September 19, 2001-

       US Geological Survey (USGS) geophysicists Gregg Swayze and Todd Hoefen fly to New York City to get calibration data from the ground that will supplement the data collected by AVIRIS (see 12:00 p.m. September 16, 2001-2:00 a.m. September 17, 2001). They collect 35 dust samples from a variety of locations around Ground Zero including window ledges, flower pots and car windshields. While “AVIRIS offers a bird's-eye view ...,” Roger Clark, a USGS astrophysicist, later explains to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “The ground samples ... gave us up-close, specific information on specific points.” On September 19 they send their data to the USGS office in Denver over the Internet. The next day, scientists will begin conducting a variety of tests on the samples (see September 20, 2001). [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Gregg Swayze, Roger Clark, Todd Hoefen
          

Shortly after September 17, 2001

       Residents at 150 Franklin Street, a seven-story cooperatively owned building several blocks north of Ground Zero, clean their apartments according to the instructions provided by the New York City Department of Health (see September 17, 2001). They also sweep the roof and other common areas. Despite their efforts, the building will test positive for asbestos in April 2002 (see April 15, 2002-April 18, 2002). [The Wall Street Journal, 5/9/2002]
          

September 17, 2001

       The New York City Department of Health (DOH) issues recommendations for people reoccupying commercial buildings and residences. [New York City Department of Health, 9/17/2001]
Recommendations -

The NYC DOH advises residents not return to apartments or workplaces south of Warren Street, west of Broadway, and north of Exchange Street, until the buildings have been approved to resume tenancy by building management.

The DOH recommends that people wear dust masks upon re-entering their indoor areas. After indoor spaces have been cleaned as per instructions, it should not be necessary to wear dust masks.

The advisory recommends that residents and people working downtown clean homes and offices using “a wet rag or wet mop.”

Additional suggestions include shampooing and vacuuming carpets and upholstery with a HEPA vacuum or a normal vacuum fitted with a HEPA filter. The recommendation is made despite two studies completed for the EPA in 1993 demonstrating that HEPA vacuums do not effectively remove asbestos from carpets and upholstery (see 1993) and that vacuuming actually increases asbestos levels in the air during use (see 1993).

The advisory recommends that residents filter the air in their homes with HEPA air purifiers.

NYC DOH instructs residents to “wash heavily soiled or dusty clothing or linens twice” and remove “lint from washing machines and filters in the dryers with each laundry load.”

The recommendations say that if the “apartment is very dusty,” curtains should be washed or HEPA vacuumed. “If curtains need to be taken down, take them down slowly to keep dust from circulating in the air,” it adds.

Residents are advised to bathe pets “with running water from a hose or faucet.” The advisory adds that “their paws should be wiped to avoid tracking dust inside the home.”

The advisory also states to “[k]eep outdoor dust from entering the home” by keeping the “windows closed” and setting the “conditioner to re-circulate air (closed vents).”

The advisory repeats earlier assertions that air monitoring indicates levels of airborne asbestos fibers detected in outside air does not pose a significant threat to human health. “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 agency claims. The DOH's recommendations are criticized by industrial hygienists and other experts. The advisory is criticized for failing to mention that the “dust” inside these homes could possibly contain asbestos and other toxic substances and for neglecting to inform people that stringent national statutes regulate asbestos removal, requiring professional abatement of materials or dust that contain asbestos or other hazardous substances. US statutory code does not permit unlicensed individuals or contractors, much less residents, to perform asbestos removal. [The Wall Street Journal, 5/9/2002; New York Daily News, 11/20/2001; NYC DOH, 9/16/2001; Jenkins, 7/4/2003]
In spite of these problems, the EPA website will link to the notice. [Jenkins, 7/4/2003; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02] and refer people to it who email the agency with questions about the safety of indoor air (see After November 1, 2001) (see After November 10, 2001). Some people, however, never even learn of this advisory and—after hearing repeated assurances from officials about safe environmental conditions—clean their indoor spaces as they otherwise would under normal conditions. [Nadler, 3/18/02] Residents who do hire professional cleaners will find that their homes are still not safe. In November, American Medical News reports numerous doctors in NYC are seeing patients with respiratory conditions.“Their apartments were covered in dust, and have since been professionally cleaned” Ira Finegold, MD, chief of allergy at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, will say. “But they return, and after 20 minutes, they're developing a raspy cough.” [American Medical News, 11/26/2001]
People and organizations involved: New York City Department of Health, Ira Finegold  Additional Info 
          

September 18, 2001

       EPA air monitors detect sulfur dioxide levels that are so elevated that “according to one industrial hygienist, they exceeded the EPA's standard for a classification of ‘hazardous,’ ” the New York Daily News later reports. The EPA does not volunteer this information to the public. Rather the data is discovered in internal EPA documents that are obtained by the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project through the Freedom of Information Act in October (see October 19, 2001). [New York Daily News, 10/21/2001; Thomas Crosbie Media, 10/26/2001]
People and organizations involved: New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, Environmental Protection Agency
          

September 18, 2001

       The State of New York's Department of Environmental Conservation monitors record dioxin levels more than five times higher than normal in water discharged into the Hudson River from a sewer pipe at Rector St. Additionally, the monitors find PCBs and dioxin levels in the river's sediment that are several times higher than figures recorded in an earlier 1993 study. The EPA does not provide the public with this information. Rather the data is found in internal EPA documents later obtained by the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project through the Freedom of Information Act in October (see October 19, 2001). [New York Daily News, 10/21/2001; Thomas Crosbie Media, 10/26/2001]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), New York Environmental Law and Justice Project
          

September 18, 2001, September 22, 2001, September 23, 2001

       At the White House's request, NASA's de Havilland Twin Otter prop plane, equipped with the AVIRIS unit (see September 12, 2001) , conducts additional flights over Manhattan (see 12:00 p.m. September 16, 2001-2:00 a.m. September 17, 2001), collecting data on the chemical composition of the dust and debris that was distributed throughout the city when the World Trade Center's twin towers collapsed. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

September 18, 2001

       EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announces that results from further air and drinking water monitoring near the WTC site and the Pentagon indicate that there are few significant risks to public health. “We are very encouraged that the results from our monitoring of air quality and drinking water conditions in both New York and near the Pentagon show that the public in these areas is not being exposed to excessive levels of asbestos or other harmful substances,” she says. “Most” of the 62 dust samples taken by the agency contained less than one percent of asbestos. [EPA, 9/18/01] The EPA incorrectly uses the one percent level of ambient asbestos as if it were a safety benchmark (see (September 12, 2001)). Moreover, the test results Whitman cites are based on the less sensitive and outdated polarized light microscopy (PLM) testing method which is incapable of identifying ultra-fine asbestos fibers and which cannot reliably detect asbestos when present in concentrations below one percent (see November 20, 1990). Whitman's statement also observes that where asbestos levels have exceeded the EPA's one percent “level of concern,” the “EPA has operated its 10 High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) vacuum trucks to clean the area and then resample.” She adds that the trucks have also cleaned the “streets and sidewalks in the Financial District in preparation for ... return to business.” [EPA, 9/18/01] However, it is later discovered that the contractor hired to clean the streets failed to equip the vacuum trucks with the required HEPA filters. [Kupferman, 2003; New York Daily News, 8/14/2002]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Christine Todd Whitman
          

September 18, 2001

       The EPA publishes a FAQ (frequently asked questions web page) on Environmental and Public Health issues related to the collapse of World Trade Center and Pentagon. The response to one of the questions specifically advises people not to wear respirators outside the WTC restricted area. “EPA has not detected any pollutant levels of concern in Lower Manhattan generally or at the Fresh Kills site on Staten Island, where the debris from the WTC cleanup is being taken for inspection and sorting,” the public notice explains. [EPA, 9/18/01]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency
          

(September 18, 2001-September 21, 2001)

       Attorney Joel R Kupferman of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project speaks with several emergency workers, police officers, firefighters, union representatives, office workers and residents. According to Kupferman, “All [express] serious concerns about the health hazards they now face firsthand. Some are having trouble breathing, some wheezing and coughing. Many are suffering with severe eye irritation and headaches.” [New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, 9/22/2001]
People and organizations involved: New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, Joel R Kupferman
          

(September 19, 2001

       ATC Associates of New York analyzes bulk dust samples taken from Vesey and Liberty Streets near the WTC site by Monona Rossol, an industrial hygienist with the Arts, Crafts, and Theater Safety organization, and Attorney Joel R Kupferman of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project. The first four samples tested are found to contain 10-15 percent fiberglass, an extremely high concentration. A quarter of the samples have an asbestos level of 2.1 percent. [Newsday, 10/12/01; New York Environmental Law & Justice Project, 9/19/2001; Village Voice, 9/26/2001; New York Environmental Law & Justice Project, 9/22/2001] Shortly after these results are made public, the New York State Department of Health warns local labs that they will lose their licenses if they process any more “independent sampling.” [Kupferman, 2003 Sources: Unnamed Lab Technician who received one such warning]
People and organizations involved: US Health and Human Services (HSS), Arts, Crafts and Theater Safety organization (ACTS), ATC Associates, New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, Joel R Kupferman
          

September 20, 2001

       US Geological Survey (USGS) scientists begin performing tests on the dust samples collected by USGS geophysicists, Gregg Swayze and Todd Hoefen, during the previous three days (see September 17, 2001-September 19, 2001-). Roger Clark (the astrophysicist who heads the AVIRIS program at USGS), Gregg Swayze, Todd Hoefen and Eric Livo (another USGS scientist) analyze samples in the Imaging Spectroscopy Lab and Gregory Meeker (head of the USGS's microbeam laboratory) views samples with the scanning electron microscope and conducts energy dispersive spectroscopy. Other USGS scientists study the samples using X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluorescence, as well as chemical analysis and chemical leach testing. Within hours, the results from the various tests indicate the presence of asbestos and an “alphabet soup of heavy metals.” Each of the different techniques used to determine the chemical components of the dust “back each other up,” Swayze later explains to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Some techniques can see more than others, and we were throwing in every technique we had in house,” he says. Tests revealed the dust to be extremely alkaline with a pH of 12.1 (out of 14). [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02] and that some of it was as caustic as liquid drain cleaner. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02 (B)] “We were startled at the pH level we were finding,” Swayze adds. “We knew that the cement dust was caustic, but we were getting pH readings of 12 and higher. It was obvious that precautions had to be taken to protect the workers and people returning to their homes from the dust.” Sam Vance, an environmental scientist with the EPA, sends the results to officials at the EPA, the New York health department and US Public Health Service. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Eric Livo, Todd Hoefen, Gregg Swayze, Geoffrey Plumlee, Joe Taggart, Steve Sutley, Robert Green, Roger Clark, US Geological Service (USGS), Phil Hageman, Gregory Meeker
          

September 20, 2001

       Business Week publishes a news report on the potential environmental and human health impact of the World Trade Center collapse. The report cites experts who challenge EPA claims that the air-quality of surrounding areas does not pose significant risks to public health. “[M]any scientists and public-health experts in New York, across the country, and in Europe counter that dust and toxic materials, not asbestos, may be the biggest threat and that the EPA's testing is, at best, inconclusive,” the magazine reports. Part of the problem lies in lax EPA pollution limits, which experts say “are often heavily influenced by industry” and consequently much too high— “especially in an event of such unprecedented magnitude that flooded the environment with so many contaminants simultaneously.” The report goes on to say that the experts are concerned that “everyone who was in the explosions' vicinity could have potentially suffered acute exposure from the dust and smoke and could be at risk for everything from near-term respiratory ailments to, over decades, cancer.” Richard Clapp, a professor at Boston University's School of Public Health, tells Business Week: “Even at low or barely detectable levels, that's a lot of asbestos fibers and other dangerous particles going into people's lungs. If those get lodged, they could do damage later on.” Temple University civil engineering professor William Miller notes that the trucks hauling debris away from the WTC are probably dispersing toxic debris “all over Lower Manhattan.” The article says the smallest dust particles, which are difficult to detect, are also the “most insidious” and are not filtered out by paper masks. [Business Week, 9/20/01] Yet the EPA had explicitly stated that people living and working in the area did not need to use respirators (see September 22, 2001).
People and organizations involved: William Miller, Richard Clapp, Environmental Protection Agency  Additional Info 
          

September 21, 2001

       EPA Administrator Christie Whitman assures New Yorkers that environmental conditions in Manhattan—both inside and outside—are safe, and provides a summary of the tests that have so far been performed on the city's air and drinking water.
Water - Whitman says: “As we continue to monitor drinking water in and around New York City, and as EPA gets more comprehensive analysis of this monitoring data, I am relieved to be able to reassure New York and New Jersey residents that a host of potential contaminants are either not detectable or are below the Agency's concern levels. Results we have just received on drinking water quality show that not only is asbestos not detectable, but also we can not detect any bacterial contamination, PCBs or pesticides.” She does say however that “following one rainstorm with particularly high runoff, we did have one isolated detection of slightly elevated levels of PCBs (see September 14, 2001).”

Outdoor air - Whitman says that outdoor air sampling does not indicate the existence of significant public health risks. This claim is based on results obtained using the outdated polarized light microscopy (PLM) testing method (see September 12, 2001) which is incapable of identifying ultra-fine fibers and which cannot reliably detect asbestos when present in concentrations below one percent (see November 20, 1990). Even though Whitman denies a significant risk to public health, she does say “seven samples taken at or near Ground Zero have had marginally higher levels of asbestos that exceed EPA's level of concern,” and that her agency has “done a total of 101 dust samples, of which 37 were slightly over the one percent asbestos.” Whitman does not mention that the EPA's “level of concern” is not a safety benchmark (see (September 12, 2001)) but rather the detection limit of the polarized light microscopy (PLM) testing method (see November 20, 1990).

Indoor air - Whitman claims, “New Yorkers and New Jerseyans need not be concerned about environmental issues as they return to their homes and workplaces.” But the EPA has no data indicating that indoor air is actually safe. The only indoor tests that have been conducted by the EPA were in the EPA's Region 2 offices located in the Federal Building and a few neighboring buildings—and the results from several of these tests were positive for chrysotile asbestos (see September 13, 2001-September 19, 2001). [Nadler, 3/18/2002; EPA, 9/21/01]

People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Christine Todd Whitman
          
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