The anatomy of the exposures that occurred around the World Trade Center site: 9/11 and beyond

Paul J. Lioy, Panos Georgopoulos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

67 Scopus citations


The attack on the World Trade Center (WTC) resulted in a new era of awareness on terrorism in the United States and the issues surrounding the potential for acute and/or long-term health outcomes caused by personal exposures to toxicants released during a terrorist event or an accident. The aftermath of the collapse yielded a situation usually not encountered in environmental health science: a large population's exposure to a previously uncharacterized complex mixture of airborne gases and particles, and re-suspendable particles (>2.5 μm in diameter). This led to a series of rapidly changing potential and actual exposure categories, both in space and time that were associated with the complex mixture of heterogeneous composition and character; e.g., very large particles mixed with much smaller amounts of fine particles, and gases released by uncontrolled combustion. The four categories of outdoor exposure that were encountered will be discussed over the period from September 11 until the fires ended on December 20, 2001. Further, the complex issue of indoor exposure to deposited dust will be highlighted from the beginning through the residual exposure issues being examined today (Category 5 period). The strength of the information on the initial WTC dust and smoke, and the smoke plumes from the fires and the continuing (permanent) gaps in our knowledge within the exposure sciences will be discussed, as well as our attempt to reconstruct exposure for various segments of the population in southern Manhattan and the surrounding areas. This all will be tied to lessons that must be considered in response to future events, natural or otherwise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLiving in a Chemical World
Subtitle of host publicationFraming the Future in Light of the Past
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Inc.
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)1573316539, 9781573316538
StatePublished - Sep 2006

Publication series

NameAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
ISSN (Print)0077-8923
ISSN (Electronic)1749-6632

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


  • Exposure science
  • Indoor/outdoor
  • Settled dust/smoke
  • WTC aftermath


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