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Open-File Report 2005–1031
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Determination of a Diagnostic Signature for World Trade Center Dust using Scanning Electron Microscopy Point Counting Techniques

By Gregory P. Meeker, Amy M. Bern*, Heather A. Lowers, and Isabelle K. Brownfield

thumbnail image of Figure 1. Secondary electron image of a typical field at 500 times magnification

The tragedy of the September 11, 2001, collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) towers and other buildings in and adjacent to the WTC site produced a dust cloud that was visible from space and covered much of lower Manhattan in millimeters to centimeters of extremely fine powdered material. This material was inhaled and ingested by thousands of people on the day of the event and for several days afterward. In addition, thousands of apartments, offices, and public buildings were contaminated by the dust through a variety of pathways.

This preliminary report seeks to quantitatively define the fine-particle fraction of WTC dust for the purpose of identifying a diagnostic signature. The signature could then be used by those working on this and other aspects of the WTC dust contamination issue in order to identify low levels of residual WTC dust. The analytical procedures in this report are not intended to be used as routine methods for analysis of samples; they were developed to obtain an accurate quantitative determination of the relative abundances of components in bulk WTC dust.

Version 1.0

Posted January 2005

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*Current address: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Enforcement Investigations Center, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225

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This report is supplemented by OF 2005–1073: Analysis of Background Residential Dust for World Trade Center Signature Components Using Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-Ray Microanalysis logo