“Microscopical Studies of World Trade ‘Center’ Disaster Dust Particles”

2002:10: Millette, Boltin, Few, Turner

Microscope, Vol 50:1 29-35


A dust sample collected from Maiden Lane in New York City one month after the World Trade Center (WTC) tragedy of September 11, 2001 contained approximately 35-40% mineral wool, 5-10% cellulose, and less than 1% chrysotile asbestos. The remainder, non-fibrous components as analyzed by PLM, SEM and micro-FTIR, was composed chiefly of plaster, cement particles and combustion products. Some glass shards, wood fragments, soil minerals (quartz), metal flakes, vermiculite sheets and perlite were present. Based on a TEM analysis, the population of WTC Maiden Lane sample particles in the small size range (0.5 – 2.5 um) was composed primarily of gypsum and cement fragments. Particles of the mineral wool (fibers and fragments) that made up a high percentage of the total WTC dust were present only at a trace level (<1%) in the 2.5 um range. Seven percent of the particles less than 2.5 um were chrysotile asbestos. Three percent of the particles less then 2.5 um were a fiber than has not been reported before in dust sample analysis. These fibers were composed of calcium, silicon and sulfur.

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