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Inorganic chemical composition and chemical reactivity of settled dust generated by the World Trade Center building collapse: Chapter 12

January 1, 2009

Samples of dust deposited around lower Manhattan by the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center (WTC) collapse have inorganic chemical compositions that result in part from the variable chemical contributions of concrete, gypsum wallboard, glass fibers, window glass, and other materials contained in the buildings. The dust deposits were also modified chemically by variable interactions with rain water or water used in street washing and fire fighting. Chemical leach tests using deionized water as the extraction fluid show the dust samples can be quite alkaline, due primarily to reactions with calcium hydroxide in concrete particles. Calcium and sulfate are the most soluble components in the dust, but many other elements are also readily leached, including metals such as Al, Sb, Mo Cr, Cu, and Zn. Indoor dust samples produce leachates with higher pH, alkalinity, and dissolved solids than outdoor dust samples, suggesting most outdoor dust had reacted with water and atmospheric carbon dioxide prior to sample collection. Leach tests using simulated lung fluids as the extracting fluid suggest that the dust might also be quite reactive in fluids lining the respiratory tract, resulting in dissolution of some particles and possible precipitation of new phases such as phosphates, carbonates, and silicates. Results of these chemical characterization studies can be used by health scientists as they continue to track and interpret health effects resulting from the short-term exposure to the initial dust cloud and the longer-term exposure to dusts resuspended during cleanup.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2009
Title Inorganic chemical composition and chemical reactivity of settled dust generated by the World Trade Center building collapse: Chapter 12
DOI 10.1021/bk-2006-0919.ch012
Authors Geoffrey S. Plumlee, Philip L. Hageman, Paul J. Lamothe, Thomas L. Ziegler, Gregory P. Meeker, Peter M. Theodorakos, Isabelle Brownfield, Monique G. Adams, Gregg A. Swayze, Todd M. Hoefen, Joseph E. Taggart, Roger N. Clark, S. Wilson, Stephen J. Sutley
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Series Title
Series Number
Index ID 70140563
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Office of the AD Energy and Minerals, and Environmental Health