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Journal Critique: Organic Pollutants

The sampled article, authored by Offenberg et al. (2004), has a local significance and not a global impact. This is because it focused on analyzing aerosol compounds that occurred during the collapse of the World Trade Center (W.T.C) – an American phenomenon. The article compared the similarities between the dust compounds found at the W.T.C and those found indoors (in different buildings that were around the epicenter of the disaster). Although the paper largely focused on assessing the impact of indoor dust on human health, the focus on Manhattan and the W.T.C showed that the article had a local significance. Stated differently, the chemical compounds used in the chemical analysis were unique to the American disaster. Furthermore, since different countries use different building materials, it is difficult to have the same chemical compounds and health implications, globally, like those highlighted by Offenberg et al. (2004).

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The study’s findings do not fill an important research gap because they focus on analyzing a rare phenomenon – the collapse of buildings and the exposure of human populations to harmful chemical compounds that emerge from the incomplete combustion of construction waste. Furthermore, few health complications, primarily, arise from exposure to indoor dust (American Board of Environmental Studies and Toxicology, 2008). This assertion is true, based on the number of human health complications that arise from other types of pollution, such as air pollution, that occur from landfill waste.

I agree with the results reported by Offenberg et al. (2004), which showed the similarity between the chemical compounds of indoor dust and the chemical components of outdoor dust that emerged immediately after the W.T.C disaster. Indeed, the chemical compounds of the 13-bulk indoor samples, collected by Offenberg et al. (2004) from Liberty Street and Trinity Place, were similar to the samples of dust collected from the windowsills of buildings that surrounded the epicenter of the W.T.C disaster. Other similarities in chemical compounds, such as hexachlorobenzene and hydrocarbons, between both places, also highlight the similarity in dust samples between the two areas. Eliminating bias by adopting effective research methodology also minimized the possibility of error when developing these research findings. Therefore, I agree with Offenberg et al. (2004) because their findings had high reliability and validity.

The sampled article safeguarded the quality of its findings through surrogates, blanks and comparisons with standard reference materials. These steps were instrumental in making sure that the quality of the information provided in the study was high. For example, the surrogates made sure there were limited sample losses from the collected dust samples (Offenberg et al., 2004). These steps ensured that the research’s processing and handling stages were of high integrity. Stated differently, this process made sure that there were minimal losses from the recovery of surrogate compounds (Offenberg et al., 2004). The blanks process went a step further from the collection of surrogate compounds by improving the integrity of the chemical analysis process. The comparison of standard reference materials by the researchers also improved the integrity of the entire research process by ensuring that the sample handling and analysis techniques provided accurate measurements of the concentrations used in the chemical analysis process. Furthermore, this step helped in eliminating bias throughout the analysis process.

The study’s social change impact comes from the need to minimize the negative impact of environmental exposures on human health. The similarity between the indoor dust samples, from neighboring buildings of the W.T.C, and outdoor dust samples show the need for maintaining proper hygiene standards when cleaning buildings. This process is helpful in minimizing the risk of long-term exposure to harmful aerosol compounds that emerge from fires, or the incomplete combustion of construction waste (Carlin, 2014).


American Board of Environmental Studies and Toxicology. (2008). Respiratory Diseases Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Carlin, D. J. (2014). Nanotoxicology and nanotechnology: New findings from the NIEHS and Superfund Research Program scientific community. Reviews on Environmental Health, 29(102), 105–107.

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Offenberg, J. H., Eisenreich, S. J., Gigliotti, C. L., Chen, L. C., Xiong, J. Q., Quan, C.,…Lioy, P. J. (2004). Persistent organic pollutants in dust that settled indoors in lower Manhattan after September 11, 2001. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology, 14(2), 164-72.

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