Environmental scientist Paul J. Lioy, whose work focused on the health effects of the dust produced by 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, died suddenly at the age of 68 at Newark Liberty International Airport.

The cause of Lioy’s death has yet to be determined, according to his wife Jean Lioy.

Dr. Lioy became one of the first scholars to gather samples of the dust from the ruins of New York’s Twin Towers, soon after he witnessed the 2001 terrorist attack, the New York Times reported. He scraped the samples from cars nearby laboratory testing, after Lioy noted the “weird texture and color” of the dust.

“It was unprecedented in terms of the complex characteristics of the materials released,” Lioy told USA Today in 2011.

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