Occupational exposures to air contaminants at the World Trade Center disaster site--New York, September-October, 2001

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2002 May 31;51(21):453-6.


Amid concerns about the fires and suspected presence of toxic materials in the rubble pile following the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) buildings on September 11, 2001, the New York City Department of Health (NYCDOH) asked CDC for assistance in evaluating occupational exposures at the site. CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) collected general area (GA) and personal breathing zone (PBZ) air samples for numerous potential air contaminants. This report summarizes the results of the assessment, which indicate that most exposures, including asbestos, did not exceed NIOSH recommended exposure limits (RELs) or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limits (PELs). One torch cutter was overexposed to cadmium; another worker was overexposed to carbon monoxide (CO) while cutting metal beams with an oxyacetylene torch or a gasoline-powered saw, and two more were possibly overexposed to CO. NIOSH recommended that workers ensure adequate on-site ventilation when using gas-powered equipment and use rechargeable, battery-powered equipment when possible.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants*
  • Aircraft
  • Disasters*
  • Explosions
  • Hazardous Substances*
  • Humans
  • New York City
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Rescue Work
  • Terrorism*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Hazardous Substances