Assessing truck driver exposure at the World Trade Center disaster site: Personal and area monitoring for particulate matter and volatile organic compounds during October 2001 and April 2002

Alison S. Geyh, Steven Chillrud, D'Ann L. Williams, Julie Herbstman, J. Morel Symons, Katherine Rees, James Ross, Sung Roul Kim, Ho Jin Lim, Barbara Turpin, Patrick Breysse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City on September 11, 2001, created a 16-acre debris field composed of pulverized and burning material significantly impacting air quality. Site cleanup began almost immediately. Cleanup workers were potentially exposed to airborne contaminants, including paniculate matter, volatile organic compounds, and asbestos, at elevated concentrations. This article presents the results of the exposure assessment of one important group of WTC workers, truck drivers, as well as area monitoring that was conducted directly on site during October 2001 and April 2002. In cooperation with a local labor union, 54 drivers (October) and 15 drivers (April) were recruited on site to wear two monitors during their 12-hour work shifts. In addition, drivers were administered a questionnaire asking for information ranging from "first day at the site" to respirator use. Area monitoring was conducted at four perimeter locations during October and three perimeter locations during April. During both months, monitoring was also conducted at one location in the middle of the rubble. Contaminants monitored for included total dust (TD), PM10, PM2.5, and volatile organic compounds. Particle samples were analyzed for mass, as well as elemental and organic carbon content. During October, the median personal exposure to TD wax 346 μg/m3. The maximum area concentration, 1742 μg/m 3, was found in middle of the debris. The maximum TD concentration found at the perimeter was 392 μg/m3 implying a strong concentration gradient from the middle of debris outward. PM2.5/ PM10 ratios ranged from 23% to 100% suggesting significant fire activity during some of the sampled shifts. During April, the median personal exposure to TD was 144 μg/m3, and the highest area concentration, 195 μg/m3, was found at the perimeter. During both months, volatile organic compounds concentrations were low.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-193
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of occupational and environmental hygiene
Volume2
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2005

Keywords

  • Area monitoring
  • Particles
  • Personal monitoring
  • Truck drivers
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • World Trade Center

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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