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Following the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, a complicated mixture of pulverized building material and combustion by-products was released at the collapse site and into surrounding areas of New York City. In the months following, several federal agencies monitored the air, dust, and water, testing for hundreds of substances. In addition, many workers were treated for symptoms that resulted from exposure to these substances. In an effort to help develop federal guidelines for personal protective equipment used by emergency responders, this report summarizes data on injuries among emergency responders available from incidents of structural collapse (including the World Trade Center in 2001 and Oklahoma City’s Murrah Building in 1995), reviews the possible health effects of substances likely to be found in pulverized building materials, and describes the possible health effects of several combustion by-products. For each substance analyzed, the report details the substance’s identity, properties, and uses; possible routes of exposure; evidence for health effects from human studies; occupational exposure limits; and carcinogenicity status.

The research described in this report was conducted under the auspices of the Safety and Justice Program within RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment (ISE), a division of the RAND Corporation, and the RAND Science and Technology Policy Institute (S&TPI), a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the National Science Foundation, for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

This report is part of the RAND technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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