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Sept. 11 Smoke Toxicity is Still Unknown

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NEW YORK, Sep 11, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Two years after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, scientists are still assessing the toxicity of the event's giant smoke and dust plume.

New Scientist reports the composition of the plume was unique in its chemical composition and unprecedented in its complexity. As a result, no one yet knows the health effects of breathing the toxins.

Thomas Cahill, an atmospheric physicist at the University of California-Davis, said: "This was a fully functional building that was completely smulched into a burning pit. That's never happened before, so we are in completely new territory. All we can say is we are worried about it. It may take years before these effects show up, just like with radiation."

Paul Lioy, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, noted of the 400 organic alkanes, pthalates and polyaromatic hydrocarbons identified, the majority had never before been detected in the atmosphere.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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