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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Elevated tritium levels at the World Trade Center


Traces of tritiated water (HTO) were detected at [the]World Trade Center (WTC) ground zero after the 9/11/01 terrorist attack. A method of ultralow-background liquid scintillation counting was used after distilling HTO from the samples. A water sample from the WTC sewer, collected on 9/13/01, contained 0.174 plus or minus 0.074 (2s) nCi/L of HTO. A split water sample, collected on 9/21/01 from the basement of WTC Building 6, contained 3.53 plus or minus 0.17 and 2.83 plus or minus 0.15 nCi/L, respectively. Several water and vegetation samples were analyzed from areas outside the ground zero, located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Kensico Reservoir. No HTO above the background was found in those samples. All these results are well below the levels of concern to human exposure.

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