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Q: Post 911 cleanup of apartments in Lower Manhattan ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Post 911 cleanup of apartments in Lower Manhattan
Category: Family and Home
Asked by: khall356-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 31 Jul 2002 12:36 PDT
Expires: 30 Aug 2002 12:36 PDT
Question ID: 47594
I'm a television writer and writing an episode that deals with 911.  I
need to know the following:  If my character lived in the "frozen
zone" below Canal Street and needed to have his apartment cleaned,
what were his options?  I want him to be a super paranoid parent. 
Would he have hired an asbestos removal company, a crime scene cleanup
company, an environmental hazards cleanup company, or all of the
above?  Other options I haven't thought of?
Subject: Re: Post 911 cleanup of apartments in Lower Manhattan
Answered By: bethc-ga on 31 Jul 2002 18:41 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi khall356,

Your character may have started by contacting the EPA:
US Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Response to September 11\

It is estimated that there are 31,000 homes in lower Manhattan. In a
program that they have established in conjunction with FEMA, the EPA
believes that they will be able to fund the cleanup of all residences.

 “All residents of lower Manhattan, living south of Canal, Allen and
Pike Streets are eligible on a voluntary basis to have their
residences cleaned and/or tested and to be reimbursed up to $300 for
the purchase of a HEPA filter vacuum.”

The above website would offer your character a wealth of information
about the process and the players, as well as providing him with an
interactive online form to begin the process. It would also offer him
email updates to keep abreast of changes in the program. The program
involves the cleaning and testing of the residence

The following excerpt details some of the recommendations that were
made previous to this program as regards asbestos dust cleanup:

“We remain confident that the cleanup methods recommended for
residences with minimal dust -- wet wiping, wet mopping and using HEPA
filter vacuums -- are effective. We are offering professional testing
and cleanup services to provide an added level of assurance that
residences have been cleaned properly.

“The Agency recommends that all residential spaces that have been
cleaned, especially those with significant impacts from dust or debris
from the collapse, repeat cleaning using wet mops, wet wipes and HEPA
vacuums. Porous surfaces, like carpets and drapes, may still contain
some dust that might get released into the air. Exposure occurs when
the materials are in the air and inhaled. These followup cleaning
methods further reduce the chance of any pollutants that might be
present getting into the air.

“EPA is conducting two studies that will yield more information in the
longer term. A pilot study of various cleaning techniques --wet
wiping, wet mopping and using HEPA vacuums -- will be conducted in an
unoccupied lower Manhattan building to evaluate the effectiveness of
these approaches. The Agency will also study the presence of a list of
substances associated with the World Trade Center collapse in
residences outside of the impacted area to determine pre-existing
levels of these materials.”

The testing at this time is aimed primarily at asbestos. Other
substances that could be in the air include: fibrous glass, dioxin,
and lead. If scientists consulted by the EPA determine that substances
other than asbestos may pose a significant risk, they will determine
if changes need to be made to the program. The plan is to clean first,
and test on the following day. Work is planned to begin in July and

The City of New York, Department of Environmental Protection,
maintains a list of certified asbestos removal contractors that you
may access here:

A series of articles from the New York Times and the New York Daily
News, compiled by 2M, a company located in lower Manhattan, publicizes
the EPA’s cleanup and testing program, with the following bit of cost
information, that you may find useful:

“Professional cleaning costs about $1.50 per square foot. But the tab
can quadruple if asbestos is detected.”


“E.P.A. officials said that according to their initial estimates,
15,000 apartments will be covered by the plan, and that cleanup by a
contractor for a typical two-bedroom apartment might cost $3,000 to

(Note that the number of apartments varies from the number stated on
the EPA website.)

There’s a lot of information here that might be helpful to you,
including the fact that the EPA initially determined that the cleanup
was not their responsibility.

2m Corp

The City of New York’s website also offered residents information on
how to safely cleanup (and what not to do!), and has held meetings to
discuss findings of air sample studies address their concerns.

City of New York
Information for Residents of Lower Manhattan

Insofar as what type of cleanup services your character may have
employed, here is a thorough description of the type of work that is
done by a crime scene cleanup firm. Their work deals largely with in
the removal of blood and other fluids, so it is unlikely that your
character would have called them in, but you may find some material

The Grim Sweepers

Residential disaster restoration companies offer a variety of
services, including working with insurance companies, documenting
losses, arranging for repairs. It is possible that you character could
have employed this type of a firm. The following is the site of a firm
that does this work:

Paramount Disaster Recovery Service

ServiceMaster is a nationwide restoration service, with expertise in
the following areas:
- Post-disaster emergency pre-cleaning
- Smoke and soot removal
- Odor removal
- Water damage restoration
- Severity control through damage mitigation

Their website offers a lot of information on the types of services
necessitated by damage from fire, smoke, water, and vandalism; all of
which your character may potentially have suffered. They mention the
necessity of cleaning draperies, upholstery, clothing, walls,
woodwork, carpet, etc. There is quite a bit of information here that
you may be able to draw from, as there would likely be a need for all
of these services.

Your paranoid father would almost certainly have called an asbestos
removal company. The EPA site mentioned above has a listing of
asbestos removal companies. In addition, I found some general
information on asbestos and asbestos abatement on the website of the
Department of Labor.

US Department of Labor: OSHA

One of their links lead to a Utah government site which details the
removal of an asbestos ceiling. The section on cleanup of the
resulting debris may prove helpful to you if you plan to detail the

Utah Government
Department of Environmental Quality

Since your character is a parent, you might find this item to be
helpful. Students at the elite Stuyvesant High School were reporting
symptoms such as headaches, difficulty breathing and bloody noses,
rashes, eye problems and coughs, despite reassurances that it was safe
for students to remain in the school. When parents considered sending
their children to another school or schooling them at home for a time,
the chancellor advised that the students would not be permitted to

New York Daily News
Stuyvesant Students Sickened: Parents cite headaches & breathing

The American Lung Association
offers a kit with tips regarding cleanup and health concerns in a
program called “Operation Return Home”:

“ Launched on September 26 with the support of the NYC Department of
Health, Operation Return Home is a community outreach program to help
residents return to their homes by providing lung health kits with
information and resources to minimize the stress and risks associated
with re-entry. Staff and volunteers distributed air quality
information, tips for cleaning up, resources, such as dust masks and
latex gloves, and equipment, including air purifiers and HEPA vacuums,
to the residential areas most affected by the disaster.”

I found a website called “Ground Zero Diary”, maintained by a resident
of lower Manhattan, that you may find useful. It is a sobering website
with a lot of photos, videos and information about the lower Manhattan
area post 9/11. One thing that particularly caught my eye regarding
cleanup was a photo of numerous discarded refrigerators. Food was left
in them while residents could not return home. When they were allowed
back, the spoiled food was so bad that the refrigerators had to be
thrown out.

There is information about a man who moved most of his possessions out
to have them decontaminated. In the meantime, his landlord assumed
that he had moved out and had his remaining possessions discarded.

It also has a lot of residential information, not specifically cleanup
related. It may provide you with useful background.

Ground Zero Diary

One additional site:

A checklist provided by the city. Steps to take upon returning to your
home, handling food, dealing with broken glass, checking for gas
leaks, running water before drinking.

Recommendations for People Re-Occupying Commercial Buildings and
Residents Re-Entering Their Homes
City of New York

I hope that you will find the information contained in these sites to
be useful. If you need clarification on any of the above, please do
not hesitate to ask.

Good luck on your project.



Search criteria:
"frozen zone" residential cleanup
residential cleaning services  9/11 "ground zero"
"post 9/11" cleanup apartment
professional cleanup services disaster "New York City" residence OR
“crime scene cleanup”
disaster cleanup residential

Clarification of Answer by bethc-ga on 01 Aug 2002 04:50 PDT
Thanks so much for your comments, khall356. We don’t often get to know
the story behind the questions that we research. I wondered, as I was
sifting through the abundance of 9/11 material on the web, what your
project might be. I will be glued to my TV next October looking for
this episode.

Thanks for letting me be a small part of it.

khall356-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
GREAT ANSWER!!!  Very detailed and exactly what I needed to know!  I
will certainly use Google Answers again and spread the word about it. 
Thanks so much!!!  (If you are interested, my research is for an
episode of JUDGING AMY entitled "The Frozen Zone", which will air in
late October, barring any acts of God or Osama Bin Laden.)  I was very
concerned with making sure that all my 911 information was accurate
and current, so I really appreciate your help.  Thanks again!!!!!

Subject: Re: Post 911 cleanup of apartments in Lower Manhattan
From: jonbaum-ga on 09 Aug 2002 07:56 PDT
Really well done. Very professional!

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