Post-9/11 Illnesses Spur Lawsuit Aimed at Protecting First Responders from Corrosives

The Watchdog group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has filed a lawsuit in an effort to get the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen its corrosive dust standard to better protect our first responders.

According to the lawsuit, EPA has not changed the regulation on corrosive dust standards since 1980, and should have been modified post-9/11. First responder at the World Trade Center suffered damaged respiratory systems due to caustic dust.

Alkaline corrosive materials at a level now exempted from hazardous waste regulations can cause chemical burns, especially to respiratory tissue. Corrosive dust is released during building demolition, cement manufacturing and crashes involving cement trucks.

The group argues in the lawsuit that the EPA regulation must be updated because the alkaline corrosivity standard is at a level 10 times higher than the World Health Organization’s standard. The petitioners are asking that the current level of 12.5 be set to 11.5 to match the international standard. They would also like non-water corrosive materials to be included in the update.

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