Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Film Found On Windows After 9/11 Reveals Higher Level Of Pollutants

Date:
June 4, 2004
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Pollutant levels in lower Manhattan after Sept. 11 may have been higher than those reported by previous researchers, according to a study by Canadian scientists.

Pollutant levels in lower Manhattan after Sept. 11 may have been higher than those reported by previous researchers, according to a study by Canadian scientists.

Six weeks after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, film found on windows within one kilometer (.62 miles) of Ground Zero revealed high levels of PCBs, flame retardants and other organic pollutants. Concentrations of the chemicals were up to 10 times greater than New York City's normal background levels and possibly 100 times higher than surrounding rural areas.

The report is scheduled to appear in the July 1 print edition of Environmental Science & Technology, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

"We were very concerned just after 9/11, as were most people in North America," says Miriam Diamond, a professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto and lead author of the paper. "We were sitting around the lab shortly after the attack and said, 'Why don't we go down and use our simple method to see what the contaminant levels are like?'"

Diamond's method involved "washing a bunch of windows" in lower Manhattan and then analyzing the resulting samples for four potentially toxic organic pollutants: polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs).

"All the samples within one kilometer of the World Trade Center were high," Diamond says. "For the PAHs, PCNs and PCBs, they were about a factor of 10 relative to Brooklyn." A site in Brooklyn was used as a baseline for the New York City area because of its location 3.5 kilometers upwind of the towers.

Diamond's earlier research in Toronto showed a similar factor of 10 difference between window films in urban and rural locations, so the concentrations near Ground Zero could have been as much as 100 times greater than surrounding rural areas, she deduces.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, many scientists converged on Manhattan to study the fallout from the attacks, including a team that suggested the potential risk of exposure from inhaling toxic organic compounds was lower than expected. The researchers reported no evidence of PCBs and, while they did find some PAHs, they said the particles were too big to pose a threat to human health.

This earlier team may have detected lower levels because their samples were diluted by the large amounts of building material emitted in the initial explosion, according to Diamond. "By the time we got there six weeks later, we were picking up the signal of the slow burn, not the catastrophic expulsion of debris," she says.

Diamond is hesitant to speculate about potential health effects for a number of reasons, including the limited number of samples: the findings were based on window films from only nine buildings in lower Manhattan. [MD1]

She was surprised that concentrations dropped to background levels beyond one kilometer from Ground Zero. "To me that's good news; I thought it would be further," Diamond says. "The flip side is that it's bad news that New York City and other urban areas have such high background concentrations of these compounds."

New York City, with a population of about 8 million, had twice the background levels of PBDEs typically found in Toronto, a city of about 4.5 million people. Beyond population differences, the higher concentrations in New York could be due to the incredible density of the "technosphere" - the large mass of manmade material, Diamond suggests.

"This should be seen in the context of a continuum," Diamond continues. "The urban areas contain the largest mass of these chemicals. They're storehouses, in effect, and we're fools to think that they're permanent storehouses." Whereas these attacks were a catastrophic event, building fires are extremely common in cities, releasing chemicals to the urban atmosphere on a daily basis. More research needs to be done to examine how these fires affect exposure to hazardous pollutants, according to Diamond.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Film Found On Windows After 9/11 Reveals Higher Level Of Pollutants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 June 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040604032125.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2004, June 4). Film Found On Windows After 9/11 Reveals Higher Level Of Pollutants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040604032125.htm
American Chemical Society. "Film Found On Windows After 9/11 Reveals Higher Level Of Pollutants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040604032125.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) German researchers have used a fake fingerprint made from glue to bypass the fingerprint security system on Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins