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CDC/NIOSH emergency response: the World Trade Center disaster - a look at the chaotic conditions and rescue workers' exposures.

Mattorano D; Burr G; Wallingford K; Snyder E; Bernard B; Esswein E; McCleery R; Lushniak B
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2003 May; :54-55
As part of a CDC first responder team, two representatives from NIOSH traveled to New York City within 24 hours of the attack. Within one week, additional NIOSH personnel were on site to collect air samples to identify occupational health risks among rescue and construction workers at "Ground Zero" and to prepare recommendations regarding respirator selection, worker exposures, blood borne pathogens, confined spaces, and handling human remains. This presentation reviews the chaotic conditions and multiplicity of local, state, and federal agencies and private organizations which were present at both "Ground Zero" and the WTC Emergency Command Center sites following September 11th, and how these impacted our ability to identify occupational health problems, track disease and injury trends, identify medical surveillance needs, and disseminate information. During our response, over 1200 air and bulk samples were collected and analyzed for asbestos, carbon monoxide (CO), chlorodifluoromethane, diesel exhaust, hydrogen sulfide, inorganic acids, mercury, metals, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, respirable and total particulate, respirable crystalline silica, and volatile organic compounds from locations on or in close proximity to the "pile." Of these, exposures to CO were the most significant problem. PBZ concentrations were above the NIOSH REL of 35 ppm and the OSHA PEL of 50 ppm. Some concentrations were above the NIOSH IDLH limit of 1200 ppm. Elevated CO levels resulted from workers using oxy-acetylene cutting torches and gasoline-powered cutting saws. Recommendations were made to ensure adequate ventilation and worker understanding of CO sources, health effects, and factors that can increase or decrease exposures when using these tools. Preliminary data from medical screening programs growing out of the disaster response indicate increased numbers of adverse health outcomes even though industrial hygiene data suggest workers' exposures, overall, were low.
Rescue-measures; Rescue-workers; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-health; Air-samples; Construction-workers; Respirators; Bloodborne-pathogens; Emergency-responders; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Respiratory-protection; Rescue-workers
630-08-0; 7783-06-4; 7439-97-6
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas
Page last reviewed: September 17, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division