The Physics and Chemistry of Aerosols from the World Trade Center Collapse Piles

Thomas A. Cahill
Professor of Physics and head, DELTA Group
UC Davis


The disaster of the World trade Center collapse generated massive amounts of particles during the first few minutes, including badly contaminating buildings with coarse dust. But in the second phase, very fine (< 0.25 micrometer) and ultra fine (< 0.1 micrometer)aerosols were generated from the smoldering collapse piles that burned all the way until December. These aerosols have now been shown to be closely connected to the continuing health problems of over 10,000 people, over 1,000 of which, many young, are on permanent disability. In this talk, I will discuss the measurements made by UC Davis with the help of the LBNL ALS and LLNL Van de Graff accelerators, and the unusual physical and chemical conditions that generated these highly toxic aerosols.