Paul Lioy, one of the first scientists to gather dust samples from Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, has died at 68. He collapsed at Newark Liberty International Airport last week. His cause of death is unknown, reports the New York Times. A professor of environmental and occupational health at Rutgers University, Lioy watched the clouds of dust rise from the World Trade Center from his New Jersey home on Sept. 11, 2001. Soon, he was scraping dust from cars and studying its "weird texture and color." "It was unprecedented in terms of the complex characteristics of the materials released," he told the Asbury Park Press. The dangers he helped uncover included asbestos-related ailments and what Lioy called the "World Trade Center cough," which affected police officers, firefighters, construction workers, and everyday citizens.
"First, cement dust was very alkaline—the pH was above 10," he said in 2010. "That irritated the linings of the lungs. Second, glass fibers got stuck in people’s upper airways, like wooden logs in a narrow stream. That trapped the cement particles and enhanced the irritation. And there were very coarse particles that comprised the vast quantity of the dust mass." Lioy was the author of Dust: The Inside Story of Its Role in the September 11th Aftermath, and also conducted studies on oil spills, ozone pollution, and household pesticides. He received two lifetime achievement awards: the Wesolowski Award from the International Society of Exposure Analysis and the Frank Chambers Award from the Air and Waste Management Association, reports CNN.