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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Health Note

Air Date: Week of September 14, 2001

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Living on Earth's Diane Toomey reports on the monitoring for toxins that might have been released in the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings in New York.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Coming up, disease spreads in Maine's huge salmon farming pens, and some aqua farmers want the Federal government to bail them out. First, this Health Note from Diane Toomey.

TOOMEY: In the aftermath of the World Trade Center tragedy, questions are being raised about the toxicity of the smoke and dust released in the collapse. The Towers were constructed some three decades ago, an era when asbestos was used as insulation and as a fire retardant. But it's not clear how much asbestos was actually in the buildings. The Environmental Protection Agency says it's testing daily for fallout at sights throughout the area.

In Brooklyn, downwind of the dust cloud, the EPA says, aside from a slightly elevated level of asbestos in the first round of testing, it has not found abnormal levels of any other toxin. In Manhattan, the agency says it analyzed dust found on police cars near the Towers. Of four samples, only one had an elevated level of asbestos.

But there are other concerns. Air quality experts say toxic smoke from the burning of wood, plastics, electronics, paper, laminates and veneers might contribute to a public health problem. Potential pollutants include PCBs and dioxins. One environmental cleanup company says, once it's allowed into the Trade Center Complex, it will also be testing for asbestos, lead, PCBs and biohazards.

That's this week's Environmental Health Update. I'm Diane Toomey.

CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.

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