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Housing demolition and air pollution: working with a local public housing environmental task force to minimize exposure.

Dorevitch S; Persky V; Scheff P; Erdal S
APHA 131st Annual Meeting and Exposition, San Francisco, California, November 15-19, 2003. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association, 2003 Nov; :74522
Thousands of public housing units across the US are being demolished. Populations at risk for severe asthma live in and around public housing developments. The particulate matter generated by demolition may represent a threat to the health of people living nearby. Methods: Before and during demolition of two high-rise public housing developments, measurements of particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter less than 10 and 2.5 microns (PM10 and PM2.5, respectively)were made approximately 5 days per week. Additionally, over an 8 hour period samples were collected for particle microscopy and for gravimetric comparisons of upwind and downwind samples. Results: PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations did not violate EPA standards and were similar to measurements made at regional EPA monitoring sites. During interior demolition, PM10 concentrations increased by approximately 50% (p<0.05). Microscopy demonstrates that PM samples obtained adjacent to the demolition site contain materials that are not typical of urban air pollution and were likely generated by demolition activities. An ad hoc public housing environmental task force was instrumental in modifying demolition practices to minimize exposure. Conclusions: Public housing demolition appears to increase local concentrations of PM10. The composition of particulate matter generated by demolition differs from typical urban air pollution. Although the health consequences of this exposure remain to be determined, a variety of measures shoul be implemented to protect a vulnerable population. The collaboration of researchers with concerned community members can produce change in demolition practices.
Demolition-industry; Humans; Men; Women; Children; Dust-exposure; Dust-inhalation; Dust-particles; Dusts; Particulate-dust; Particulates; Respirable-dust; Respiratory-hypersensitivity; Respiratory-infections; Respiratory-irritants; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-disorders; Pulmonary-function; Pulmonary-system; Pulmonary-system-disorders
Samuel Dorevitch, MD, MPH, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2121 W. Taylor, M/C 922, Chicago, IL 60612
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APHA 131st Annual Meeting and Exposition, San Francisco, California, November 15-19, 2003
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University of Illinois at Chicago
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division