Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other semivolatile organic compounds collected in New York City in response to the events of 9/11.


Journal Article

Concentrations of over 60 nonpolar semivolatile and nonvolatile organic compounds were measured in Lower Manhattan, NY, using a high-capacity integrated organic gas and particle sampler after the initial destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC). The results indicate that the remaining air plumes from the disaster site were comprised of many pollutants and classes and represent a complex mixture of biogenic (wood-smoke) and anthropogenic sources. This mixture includes compounds that are typically associated with fossil fuel emissions and their combustion products. The molecular markers for these emissions include the high molecular weight PAHs, the n-alkanes, a Carbon Preference Index approximately 1 (odd carbon:even carbon approximately 1), as well as pristane and phytane as specific markers for fuel oil degradation. These results are not unexpected considering the large number of diesel generators and outsized vehicles used in the removal phases. The resulting air plume would also include emissions of burning and remnant materials from the WTC site. Only a small number of molecular markers for these emissions have been identified such as retene and 1,4a-dimethyl-7-(methylethyl)-1,2,3,4,9,10,10a,4a-octahydrophenanthrene that are typically biogenic in origin. In addition, the compound 1,3-diphenylpropane[1',1'-(1,3-propanediyl)bis-benzene] was observed, and to our knowledge, this species has not previously been reported from ambient sampling. It has been associated with polystyrene and other plastics, which are in abundance at the WTC site. These emissions lasted for at least 3 weeks (September 26-October 21, 2001) after the initial destruction of the WTC.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Swartz, E; Stockburger, L; Vallero, DA

Published Date

  • August 2003

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 37 / 16

Start / End Page

  • 3537 - 3546

PubMed ID

  • 12953863

Pubmed Central ID

  • 12953863

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1520-5851

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0013-936X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1021/es030356l


  • eng