High Power Microscopic Image of World Trade Center Collapse Dust collected at the siteWorld Trade Center Dust Particle Photo-Catalog
     


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This website article presents photographs of dust particles from the World Trade Center Collapse as an aid in the identification of the nature and composition of typical particles found in dust from the World Trade Center Collapse. The WTC dust particles shown above and in these photographs were examined in our forensic microscopy laboratory and were a portion of physical samples of dust collected from New York City building window sills at the 9/11/01 site shortly after the attack. Digital photographs were made at magnifications ranging from 300x to 1920x and using both transmitted light and polarized light microscopy in our forensic laboratory in Poughkeepsie, NY.

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World Trade Center Catastrophic Collapse - Microscopic Photos of WTC Dust

The concerns for public health and simple public anxiety concerning the contents of the dust created by the World Trade Center Collapse deserve thoughtful attention. However no scientific inquiry regarding this material should proceed without remembering to treat the substance and its implications with utmost respect, as is our intention here.

The purpose of these microphotographs is to aid researchers in recognizing typical World Trade Center Collapse Dust particles when they may be present in other environmental samples. Small amounts of dust from these samples can be provided to other research scientists on request. The micro-photographs here investigate the contents and physical appearance of the dust particles created by the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center collapse following the terrorist attack on that date. Particles in dust can be identified, in many instances, by forensic microscopy.

While this work was begun in September 2001, the resulting photos taken through the microscope were not displayed until development of this public information page in 2006. Also see Asbestos: How to find and recognize asbestos in Buildings and Asbestos HVAC Ducts and Flues.

Microscopic Photos of Dust Particles from World Trade Center Collapse

Typical particles in this material include fiberglass, slag wool, asbestos, paper, cotton and other fabric fibers, plastic fragments and droplets, wood. Some photos also show starch granules, recognizable in polarized light. The dust from the WTC collapse does not include identifiable microscopically identifiable organic particles. Particle sizes range from large, perhaps 20 x 120 u (typically fiberglass) to sub-micron particulates. Magnification in these photos ranges from 300x to 1920x.

Experts report other contents in this dust including "microscopic traces of nearly every element - chromium, magnesium, manganese, aluminum, barium, titanium, and lead." [N.Y. Times, "What Happened to That Cloud of Dust", Pg. B1, B7, 11/2/2006]. The Times article reported on work by Paul J. Lioy, who mapped the dust and gas plume movement following the attack and collapse of the buildings. Lioy reported that volatiles were also present including components of jet fuel. Volatiles would have been present in gaseous form not as particulates.

By May 2006, increasing media reports indicate very serious health effects from exposure to high levels of this dust, including apparent fatalities and significant loss of lung function (pulmonary aging). By January 2007 these effects were well established in public media reports such as articles in the New York Times and various health journals.

Click on the image or the link to see an enlargement of each forensic microscopic photograph of the dust from the world trade center collapse

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