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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

CUNY Faculty Investigates Respirable Dust Exposure among World Trade Center Clean-up Workers

Drs. Brian T. Pavilonis and Franklin E. Mirer, professors at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy evaluated Occupational Safety and Health Administration samples among workers participating in the World Trade Center cleanup efforts. The findings were published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

dr-brian-t-pavilonis dr-franklin-e-mirer
[Photo: Dr. Brian T. Pavilonis (left) and Dr. Franklin E. Mirer]

The cleanup effort following the destruction of the World Trade Center was unprecedented and involved removal of 1.8 million tons of rubble over a nine month period. Work at the site occurred 24 hours a day, seven days a week and involved thousands of workers during the process. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted personal and area exposure sampling during the cleanup of the site.

The research team conducted secondary data analysis on Occupational Safety and Health Administration air sampling data for respirable dust and silica from September 2001 to June 2002 at the World Trade Center recovery site to characterize workers’ exposure. Results for silica and respirable particulate were stratified by area and personal samples as well as job task for analysis. Of 1108 samples included in the analysis, 693 were personal and 415 were area. Workers identified as drillers had the highest mean silica exposure followed by workers identified as dock builders. There were no discernable trends in personal respirable dust and silica concentrations with date.