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NIEHS Aids Cleanup at World Trade Center

NIEHS has awarded nearly $700,000 in grants for exposure assessment, clean-up, outreach and hazardous material worker training at the World Trade Center in New York.

Institute director Dr. Kenneth Olden toured ground zero on Oct. 4 and met with center representatives and worker training program grantees.

Allen Dearry, who runs the NIEHS centers program, said five NIEHS centers are already involved in exposure assessment, study planning and community outreach. Each of those centers received $50,000. Additional funds have been requested to expand their efforts, he said.

"Our role at NIEHS is to coordinate and integrate that effort to provide assistance in this tragedy," Dearry said.

Environmental Toxicology Program Director Chris Portier initiated an effort to collect dust samples to ensure the samples would be available for studies on the long-term effects. Some of those samples were collected within 24 hours of the terrorists' attacks on Sept. 11. Dearry said the centers have also obtained samples from the personal air monitors used by rescue workers. The samples are in various stages of analyses, he said.

Epidemiologic studies are being developed to focus primarily on the long-term effects of exposure for clean-up and rescue workers. Pending availability of funds, Dearry said, those studies could be expanded to include other groups such as children, pregnant women and people who work in the area.

Dearry said the centers are also coordinating outreach activities and are putting together lists of experts who can address health-related concerns of the people affected.

Of the grants already approved, the International Association of Firefighters received $100,000 for emergency hazmat training. The International Union of Operating Engineers also received $100,000. The group provided a hazmat team to remove debris, and is providing industrial hygiene sampling equipment, self-contained breathing apparatus, protective suits and respirators.

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, which operates a hazardous material worker training program, received $80,000. The Center to Protect Worker Rights, the health and safety arm of the AFL-CIO, received $84,046, and the Laborers Union and Associated General Contractors received $80,000 to offset costs associated with their recovery and evidence-collection efforts.

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