Photo credit: © Joe McNally
Accession Number: C.2013.644.8
Dimensions: 109 in X 44 in X 0.08 in
Dimensions (Metric): 276.86 cm X 111.76 cm X 0.2032 cm
Credit Line: Gift of Joe McNally in thanks for ADORAMA's ongoing generous support of the Faces of Ground Zero Collection and of the "Faces of Ground Zero - 10 Years Later" Exhibit, 2011. Courtesy, Ellen Price, Inc. © Joe McNally.
Marek Truskolaski, Raul Pala and Julio Jalil, Asbestos Handlers, Laborers, International Union of North America, Local 78
Life-sized Polaroid photograph taken by Joe McNally depicting asbestos handlers Marek Truskolaski, Raul Pala and Julio Jalil. All three of the men are wearing white Tyvek suits; dirtied, yellow latex gloves; hard hats; and respirators. Truskolaski and Jalil have duct tape wrapped around their shoes.
When the Twin Towers collapsed, releasing at least 400 tons of asbestos into the environment, licensed asbestos abatement professionals became essential to the city's response and recovery. The presence of asbestos in the environment posed a known health risk for first responders, students, workers, and residents throughout lower Manhattan. Long before 9/11, the Environmental Protection Agency had concluded that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure for humans. The EPA considers any product containing at least one percent asbestos to be an "asbestos-containing material." In the wake of the terrorist attacks, this concern extended to residual material from the collapsed buildings.
Asbestos sampling was required to determine how far and at what levels the toxin had spread environmentally. The sampling process established which spaces in lower Manhattan required abatement. The EPA began sampling for the presence of asbestos in "dust" on September 11. Sampling for asbestos traces in ambient air began on September 12. Over the subsequent days and weeks, other government agencies and private citizens began collecting their own test samples. The results varied, as did official guidance on removal. What remained true was that the most safe and efficient strategy for removing asbestos was to employ licensed, properly equipped asbestos and hazardous waste disposal professionals to remove any suspected contaminants. Professional handlers such as those belonging to Laborers Local 78 were crucial to the task of making lower Manhattan safe again.
Marek Truskolaski, Raul Pala, and Julio Jalil, members of Local 78, began their World Trade Center cleanup efforts on September 15. Coworkers remarked about encountering adjacent buildings with interior surfaces covered in thick dust. It was the scale of human loss measured in the scope of destruction at Ground Zero that shocked Truskolaski. He told McNally, "I was crying, thinking about the people who died and their families." Jalil added, "It would take the devil to kill so many people."