Forensic technology used to test buildings at World Trade Center site
NEW YORK - A new technique for analyzing the volatile organic chemicals present in settled building dust was recently used to evaluate the air quality of several office buildings in New York a year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Known as DustVOC, this new forensic technique can examine a building for past and present chemical contamination. Developed by Air Quality Sciences Inc. of Atlanta, building investigators can use DustVOC to diagnose the causes of "sick building syndrome" outbreaks, and evaluate cleaning effectiveness following construction, maintenance, or remediation.
Tests by AQS showed buildings close to the World Trade Center had interior surfaces contaminated with the dust and debris resulting from the collapse of the WTC's twin towers. Although the buildings had been cleaned, building dust analysis showed elevated levels of chemicals that were two to three times higher than typical commercial building dust. Many of the chemicals found were known irritants and carcinogens. AQS recommended that all contaminated materials be removed if more thorough cleaning does not take care of the problem.
DustVOC provides building investigators with more precise information than traditional testing methods. During a typical building investigation, analysis of the air may lead to false negative results (indicating nothing unusual), especially when a VOC generating process is not active during sampling. Dust on building and furniture surfaces may contain chemicals used in the building recently and in years past. Such dust is available for dermal and inhalation exposure to building occupants, which can lead to symptoms such as eye, nose and throat irritation, cough, headache and general flu-like illnesses, and skin irritation. Asthma and other respiratory diseases are escalating, and indoor pollution is believed to be a cause. DustVOC can help investigators get to the source of such problems.
Air Quality Sciences is a full-service indoor air quality firm providing services to create and maintain healthy indoor environments. Among these services are building investigations, chemical and microbial analysis of indoor environmental contaminants, product emissions testing, and consulting services.
For more information about DustVOC, contact Air Quality Sciences Inc. at 1337 Capital Circle, Atlanta, GA 30067; call (770) 933-0638; fax (770) 933-0641; see www.aqs.com on the Internet.