Air quality around Surfside condo collapse site being monitored for safety of work crews

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Officials are monitoring the air quality in and around the South Florida condo collapse site in an effort to keep first responders safer as recovery operations continue. 

Since the June 23 partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside and the demolition of the rest of the structure earlier this month, efforts have shifted from rescue to recovery as crews sift through the rubble. 

“We have deployed a number of instruments that are monitoring the air pollution at the site and around the site to make sure that we know what kind of pollutant people who are at or around the site, including first responders, are exposed to,” Naresh Kumar, an associate professor of environmental science at the University of Miami said in a video posted online Wednesday by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. 

Kumar said residents close to the site can avoid toxic partials from entering their homes by closing their doors and windows. The lifespan of aerosol, which contains particles, is three days. 

“So within three days, roughly 72 hours, it should be back to normal once the site is clean,” Kumar said. 

As of Wednesday morning, the death toll was 96 after another victim was identified. On Tuesday, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said crews had moved over 18 million pounds of concrete and debris. 

She added that identifying victims has become challenging in recent days. 

“At this step in the recovery process, we’re relying heavily on the work of the medical examiner’s office,” she said. “It’s a scientific, methodical process to identify human remains. This work is becoming more difficult with the passage of time. Although our teams are working as hard as they can, it takes time.”

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