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An industrial hygiene survey of an office building in the vicinity of the World Trade Center: assessment of potential hazards following the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings.

Hall R; Trout D; Earnest G
J Occup Environ Hyg 2004 May; 1(5):D49-D53
NIOSH investigators conducted this evaluation to address DHHS employee concerns about ongoing building related environmental exposures that may have been related to the WTC collapse. Some of their concerns were in response to symptoms reported among building occupants including headache and eye, nose, and throat irritation. The industrial hygiene survey described in this case study did not reveal any contaminant exposure that could explain the symptoms reported at the time of the survey. However, it is not possible to draw conclusions concerning exposure-related adverse health effects that may have resulted immediately following the WTC collapse. The results of VOC analysis from FOB air samples were similar to results obtained from other indoor environments.(9,10) Recommendations: To prevent combustion products from entering the general ventilation system, all trucks should be turned off when parked in the building's garage or when they are on the loading dock. If that is not possible, a dedicated exhaust system should be installed to remove vehicle exhaust particles and gases. Further, the general ventilation in the garage should be improved to remove exhaust gases and particles generated by vehicles moving in and out of the garage and loading dock area. Similarly, particles generated in the cafeteria can be removed by local exhaust ventilation. These areas should also be kept under negative pressure relative to the rest of the building to avoid cross contamination. Because asbestos was found in the settled dust in the air intakes prior to entering the HVAC system, those areas should be cleaned by licensed asbestos handlers as required by New York City law. (12) The feasibility of installing more efficient filters in the HVAC system and ensuring that their use does not result in increased static pressure that exceeds the system's limits should be explored. If PACs are used in individual offices, they must be properly maintained and should be of the type that uses HEPA filtration. PACs that contain charcoal filtering media will help remove VOCs. Ozone-generating air cleaners are not recommended. Frequent vacuuming should minimize dust inside the building. Carpets and other upholstered surfaces should be vacuumed frequently with vacuums that contain HEPA filters. Nonporous surfaces should be cleaned with damp methods to prevent resuspension of settled dust. As is the case in any occupational environment, building employees who have work-related health concerns should report those concerns to their health clinic or other appropriate personnel. The staff of the health clinic should maintain a log of those concerns that includes a listing of symptoms and the work location of the employee. Periodically, clinic staff should provide building management with a summary of that information. Managers and supervisors should receive training to ensure that they respond appropriately to employee health and safety concerns and steps should be taken to increase communication between management and employees. A health and safety committee consisting of workers and managers could be used to communicate these results and solve problems raised by employees.
Dust-analysis; Chemical-hypersensitivity; Chemical-composition; Chemical-analysis; Chemical-agent-detectors; Air-contamination; Air-quality; Air-samples; Airborne-particles
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Mazzuckelli L
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Page last reviewed: August 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division