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Thread: A Fallen Hero - Video Inside

  1. #31
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    Jan 2005
    Tracing Lung Ailments That Rose With 9/11 Dust

    Published: May 13, 2006

    As they push their investigation into the health risks to workers in the recovery and cleanup operations at ground zero, medical detectives are focusing on a group of lung diseases that can lead to long-term disabilities and, in some cases, death.

    After nearly five years, it is still too early for these doctors, scientists and forensic pathologists to say with certainty whether any long-term cancer threat came with exposure to the toxic cloud unleashed by the trade center collapse. But there are already clear signs that the dust, smoke and ash that responders breathed in have led to an increase in diseases that scar the lungs and reduce their capacity to take in and let out air.

    The Fire Department tracked a startling increase in cases of a particular lung scarring disease, known as sarcoidosis, among firefighters, which rose to five times the expected rate in the two years after Sept. 11. Though that rate has declined, doctors worry that the disease may be lurking in other firefighters. Experts who regularly see workers who were at ground zero in the 48 hours after the towers' collapse expect monitoring to show many more cases of lung- scarring disorders among that group.

    New evidence also suggests that workers who arrived later or worked on the periphery may also be susceptible to debilitating lung ailments.

    "We have thousands of people who were down there with unprotected exposures," said Dr. Stephen M. Levin, a director of the World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program. "Many will develop asthma and a few will develop this terrible lung scarring that leads to disability or death."

    But even in diseases closely related to dust, making a binding connection to ground zero exposure is hard. For instance, the Fire Department has linked sarcoidosis to working at the trade center site, while the Police Department has not.

    The clues that led to this new area of medical investigation were stark reminders of what was lost on Sept. 11. They are drawn from cases of statistically unexpected respiratory disease among young responders.

    The ailments now seen are far more serious than the general hacking and congestion known as "World Trade Center cough" that initially hit most responders. Rather, these are a set of diseases and disorders that typically take a few years to develop, and in some cases get progressively worse.

    The most worrisome to medical experts are granulomatous pulmonary diseases, which show a particular type of swirling marks left on the lungs by foreign matter like dust. Doctors say the severity of the disease is often dictated by a patient's genetic makeup. The diseases include pulmonary fibrosis and sarcoidosis, a sometimes fatal disorder that can be set off when exposure to dust causes the body's immune system to attack itself.

    Some people can live with the scarring if they limit their activities, but in others the exposure to foreign material sets off a cascade of ailments that can lead to more debilitating conditions and, eventually, death. Detective James Zadroga, 34, died in January when his badly scarred lungs weakened and his heart gave out. The coroner's report gave the cause of death as "granulomatous pneumonitis," and the autopsy found swirls throughout his lungs caused by foreign material consistent with dust.

    Detective Zadroga's death was the first to be officially linked by an autopsy report to exposure to the ground zero dust, although the electronmicroscope comparisons that could have proved the match beyond a reasonable doubt were not done by the coroner's office.

    The Uniformed Firefighters Association earlier this year linked the deaths of two firefighters and a battalion chief — from lung disease and respiratory ailments — to the air at ground zero, although the Fire Department itself has not formally acknowledged that those deaths were connected to ground zero work. And three young emergency medical technicians who worked in the dust and smoke at ground zero have died from pulmonary diseases and coronary problems aggravated by their battered lungs, according to the union that represented them.

    The use of respirators and dust masks might have reduced the incidence of respiratory ailments, but the most effective ones issued to firefighters are meant to last only 20 minutes. Other responders and volunteers who arrived after the first two days did not use dust masks at all or were only given paper masks, an issue raised in a pending class-action suit against the city and private companies involved in the cleanup.

    Although the reported cases of lung disease affect a tiny portion of the 40,000 people who responded to the trade center collapse, they have already caused widespread concern among the survivors, lending urgency to medical efforts to understand the risks and illnesses involved.

    "When these cases come to public attention, every individual down there who has some problem breathing thinks, 'I'm next,' " said Dr. Levin, a professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

    Dr. Levin's screening program offers the most complete picture of the health consequences of Sept. 11, apart from statistics maintained by the Fire Department on the firefighters. Nearly 12,000 union employees and other workers who were exposed to the trade center dust and debris have been examined.

    Dr. Levin said that more than 60 percent of those people developed respiratory problems like sinusitis. He said continued monitoring was beginning to suggest that more serious lung problems might follow; he will complete a new epidemiological study of responders in a few months.

    In testimony before a Congressional committee in February, Dr. Kerry J. Kelly, chief medical officer of the Fire Department, outlined the department's concerns about lung diseases. She said one responder awaiting a lung transplant had died of pulmonary fibrosis. And the department was alarmed to find that 20 firefighters had come down with sarcoidosis in the first two years after Sept. 11, "a substantial increase from prior years" that was believed to be linked to "massive dust inhalation" at ground zero.

    The high rate, five times the expected level, has since returned to the expected range — a clear sign, doctors say, of a link to Sept. 11. But there is still cause for concern. The disease may take longer to develop in some people than others, doctors said, just as certain groups — including Northern Europeans and African-Americans — have been shown to have a higher incidence of sarcoidosis than the general population.

    Medical experts say that proving that exposure to a known toxin caused an illness is notoriously difficult, even in situations where the hazards are as obvious as the thunderhead of dust and smoke that rolled through Lower Manhattan on Sept. 11 and lingered over the rubble pile for weeks.

    In some cases, making such links causes so much discord that government agencies have come to conflicting conclusions, extending the misery of those involved.

    For example, firefighters who have developed sarcoidosis since Sept. 11 are thought to have contracted the disease because of their work at ground zero. Yet the Police Pension Board has ruled that working at ground zero did not cause the death of a police officer who developed the disease.

    "This rift between the Police and Fire Departments is ridiculous," said Michelle Haskett-Godbee, whose husband, Police Officer James J. Godbee Jr., died in December 2004. She said that Officer Godbee, who had worked at or near ground zero for more than 850 hours, suddenly developed a hacking cough and grew progressively weaker, although he had to keep working.

    After his lung collapsed in March 2004, Officer Godbee, a former marine and 19-year police veteran, grew frail and listless. In the weeks before he died, he could barely get out of an easy chair at his Stuyvesant Town apartment, Mrs. Godbee said.

    The autopsy done by the New York medical examiner's office found that Officer Godbee's lungs were pitted with the blisters and scars caused by sarcoidosis.

    Despite the Fire Department's well-researched information on sarcoidosis, the Police Pension Board last June denied Mrs. Godbee's application for a line-of-duty death benefit, which would have provided her widow's benefits — equal to half her husband's annual salary — every year for the rest of her life. The board stated that sarcoidosis is "not known to be related to employment in the police force."

    Mrs. Godbee said her husband worked multiple shifts over several months in the area below Canal Street that was clouded in dust from the collapsed buildings. He often came home with the stench on his clothes, and he was never given anything but a paper mask for protection.

    "There's no way you can't get sick after smelling all that dust and dirt," said Mrs. Godbee, a school guidance counselor.

    Her lawyer, John Patrick Rudden, is trying to force the Fire Department to open the medical records of the firefighters with sarcoidosis in the belief that such information would strengthen Mrs. Godbee's legal challenge of the pension board decision.

    Michael T. Murray, general counsel of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said he expected the appeal to succeed because "the government can't treat two similarly positioned people differently."

    Paul J. Browne, a police spokesman, did not defend the board's decision, but he said police officers were usually not exposed to the same smoke and dust as firefighters. He said it was the board, which includes medical experts, and not the department that made pension decisions.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #32
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    Jan 2005
    Doctor details findings of study on health of 9/11 rescue workers

    Saturday, May 20, 2006

    TYLER — More than 300 firefighters died trying to rescue victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Hundreds more can no longer work as firefighters because they can't make it up a flight of stairs without wheezing.

    Dr. Stephen Levin, the medical director of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, presented findings of a two-year study on the 9/11 responders Friday at the University of Texas Health Center at Tyler.

    Levin said many of the responders, including firefighters, law enforcement officers, medical professionals, construction workers and utility workers, suffer from persistent respiratory illnesses because of the toxic particles they inhaled after the towers were struck by airplanes.

    Musculoskeletal injuries from falls and falling debris plague responders almost five years later, he said.

    His discussion touched on the psychological effects of the search and rescue and cleanup, as well. About 8 percent of the 1,100 initial patients seen at the Mount Sinai clinic expressed thoughts of suicide, Levin said.

    From July 2002 through July 2004, Levin's clinic and other clinics in the area evaluated and treated almost 12,000 World Trade Center responders.

    He began his presentation, which was part of a daylong "Current Occupational Health Issues" conference at the health center, by showing photographs of rubble, smoke and fires at ground zero. About 40 health care workers attended the conference.

    "This picture was taken in the afternoon of Sept. 11. It looks like dusk because there's so much airborne materials. There was a tremendous release of pulverized construction materials," Levin said.

    Pulverized cement and gypsum were the most harmful particles inhaled by responders, Levin said. Pulverized glass, asbestos, silica, acid mist (from burned plastic furniture and pipes) and heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, also were among the toxic inhalants at the site.

    Cement particles were corrosive and burned the lungs, he said.

    Levin showed another photograph of a line of firefighters crawling on top of debris toward a thick cloud of smoke.

    "No one (in the photo) despite this haze of dust was wearing what we would call adequate respiratory protection," he said.

    He said responders on the day of the attacks had no respiratory protection. On the second day, firefighters were issued masks, but many didn't wear the gear because it prohibited responders from communicating with the other rescue workers. Some workers didn't know how to use them.

    Some people wrapped cloths around their faces, but that actually did little to protect them from inhaling fine particles, Levin said.

    He said residents who lived near the site were exposed when they returned to their homes a couple of weeks later. Schoolchildren also have experienced health problems related to the debris.

    Levin said he saw one patient, an emergency medical technician, who was training for a marathon before September 11. The man had never had respiratory problems until that day. He now has asthma.

    Levin said the Environmental Protection Agency informed people that the airborne conditions were safe during the days after the attacks, but the results of Mount Sinai's study prove otherwise.

    "Their air monitoring looked good, but we had sick patients. We're still following patients and still seeing high rates of respiratory problems. This problem is not over for that responder community," Levin said.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #33
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    Jan 2005


    2006 -- The city has four words for many World Trade Center recovery workers who have fallen ill: It's your own fault.

    In court papers seeking to dismiss all lawsuits by the workers, the city argues it did all it could to protect them from toxic dust, smoke and rubble - but many ignored the safety rules.

    Workers were required to wear respirators - fitted breathing devices with air filters - on and around the WTC pile, but some defiantly refused, the city contends in a brief filed in Manhattan federal court last week.

    "On several occasions, OSHA [U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration] inspectors confronted firefighters who were not wearing their respirators and given resistance - the firefighters told OSHA that they would not comply and that OSHA had no authority over them," the brief says.

    The city says its Department of Design and Construction, which led the cleanup, reported this to ranking FDNY officials to try to get firefighters to comply.

    When the DDC found construction workers not wearing safety gear, supervisors contacted the contractor in an effort to "re-educate the employee," the brief says.

    The city filed the brief in asking U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein to toss out all 5,000-plus claims by WTC responders, claiming blanket immunity because it was responding to a civil emergency and acting "in good faith."

    The city acknowledges the WTC site was tainted with tons of asbestos and other pulverized toxins and carcinogens. But, it claims, many workers ignored or disobeyed signs posted around the site, and other reminders to wear protective gear.

    The city's arguments outraged advocates and lawyers for the workers.

    "It's sick that they're blaming the victim," said David Worby, who represents 8,000 workers in a class-action suit. "Most of the workers weren't given any safety protection. Others were given faulty equipment. It was too little, too late."

    The class-action contends the city, in a rush to reopen Wall Street, did not have adequate safety protocols: "They never hosed down the workers. They never took their uniforms at the end of the day and gave them fresh ones. People were eating their lunch on the pile."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  4. #34
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    Jan 2005
    WTC responders illness worse than expected

    June 1, 2006

    Doctors who treat World Trade Center responders say they are surprised almost five years later by the growing number seeking help for the first time -- 100 people a month in the biggest monitoring program -- and by the severity of illnesses among Sept. 11 workers already in treatment.

    "There's no question there's continuing demand and many in the treatment program are quite ill," said Dr. Robin Herbert, codirector of the World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan.

    Herbert, whose program has examined about 15,000 responders since 2002, said doctors are finding "remarkable persistence" in breathing disorders such as chronic sinusitis and asthma, stomach ailments such as gastrointestinal reflux disease and psychological problems such as post traumatic stress disorder -- a suite of maladies one survivor called "my 9/11 plague."

    Some patients also have come in with severe lung scarring, which can be fatal. And there have been cases of cancer, which worries experts, though they are unwilling to directly attribute them to exposure to Ground Zero toxins.

    Doctors are also surprised by the numbers of new patients. Mount Sinai's screening program sees 100 new people a month, Herbert said. Despite adding more health care providers, Herbert said that for the last six months, the waiting list for treatment has grown to more than three months. "We honestly did not expect such ongoing demand," she said.

    Dr. Ben Luft, program director for Long Island's World Trade Center monitoring program at Stony Brook University Hospital, which is following about 1,800 workers, said about 250 new workers from Long Island have come to the program in the past year.

    "It's very surprising. Originally, we felt these are people who had an acute exposure and acute reaction, and we didn't think we were going to continue at this level for five years after exposure," said Luft, whose program, like Mount Sinai's, follows and treats Sept. 11 responders.

    In some, he said, there appears to be "a period of latency" before symptoms develop. In others, symptoms have worsened over time, becoming bad enough to drive the person to seek help for the first time. "There's a chronic, progressive element to this," he said.

    Herbert said she is also concerned about a small number of cases of lung scarring similar to that which killed Det. James Zadroga, 34, of Little Egg Harbor, N.J., in January. The coroner there found swirls in Zadroga's lungs caused by foreign material, which he linked to Ground Zero dust -- the first death to be officially tied to World Trade Center exposure.

    "We're concerned because now we have a very small number of World Trade Center responders with much more serious lung scarring diseases," Herbert said.

    Luft said he has also seen a handful of such cases.

    Dr. David Prezant, chief medical officer in the Office of Medical Affairs in the New York City Fire Department at Montefiore Medical Center, said he also has seen some cases of lung scarring among the 14,000 fire fighters and emergency medical workers being monitored. He believes larger numbers of scarring cases and other diseases may show up in "another wave" decades from now.

    Prezant coauthored a study published last month that showed the average lung function decline among fire fighters who were at Ground Zero one year after Sept. 11 was the equivalent of 12 years of aging.

    World Trade Center workers are exchanging stories of cancers in colleagues -- especially of the blood, kidneys and pancreas -- they believe are the result of ingesting pulverized cement, glass fibers and other toxic substances at Ground Zero.

    "We have a rough estimate of 200 to 300 people who are between the ages of 30 and 50 [with cancer]," said Jon Sferazo, 51, of Huntington Station, presiding officer of Unsung Heroes Helping Heroes, an advocacy group for Sept. 11 responders. "These cancers seem to be occurring in people far too young," he said.

    Doctors are unwilling to link the cancer cases and exposure to Ground Zero toxins because it generally takes years for cancers to develop -- but they are tracking them closely. "We don't know if these are just normal, sporadic cases or if a pattern is developing. The methodology [in monitoring patients] has to be vigilant," Luft said.

    Mental health problems, including depression and post traumatic stress disorder, are also not going away, experts said. As with new cases of physical ailments, health professionals are seeing new cases of psychological difficulties among people who previously hadn't sought help.

    "What we're seeing is people coming forward for the first time," said Michael Arcari, the head of Faithful Response, a free mental health program for World Trade Center responders in North Bellmore.

    Arcari, a former New York City Police Department lieutenant, said it is not unusual to see more people seeking help four to six years after a major trauma when their "coping mechanisms" start to falter. Since it began last year, his program has seen 130 people, the majority of whom are from Long Island.

    "You start to see it in their personal lives and in their work performance," he said. "... A marriage is breaking up or something else is going on and their backs are up against a wall."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  5. #35
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    Jan 2005
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  6. #36
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    Jan 2005
    Officials Begin Survey for 9/11 Registry

    Associated Press Writer

    NEW YORK — City officials on Thursday launched a follow-up survey for thousands of people in a registry tracking post-Sept. 11 health problems, looking for proof of persistent respiratory and psychological illnesses in those who worked or lived near ground zero.

    The World Trade Center Health Registry gathered initial information from 71,437 people who worked at ground zero or were in the area at the time of the attacks, making it the nation's largest such registry.

    The program has come under criticism for failing to reach conclusions about post-Sept. 11 health effects sooner and for not providing information about treatment to survivors.

    "We wish we had all of the answers. We wish we knew what the long-term health effects of 9/11 are," Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said Thursday. "But we don't."

    The new questionnaires ask for more details about the registrants' exposure and any update on their symptoms.

    Officials have warned that it may take 20 years before doctors know what Sept. 11 did _ and did not do _ to the emergency personnel, civilians and others engulfed in the airborne remains of the two 110-story buildings.

    A class-action lawsuit representing thousands of ailing workers and civilians blames Sept. 11 for their health problems, and two programs in the city are treating tens of thousands of rescue workers who say they developed sinusitis, cancers and other ailments after the attack.

    In addition, a New Jersey medical examiner this year declared that the death of a retired city police detective who spent hours at the trade center site was "directly related to the 9/11 incident."

    Frieden said that while registrants have reported respiratory problems, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, "what we don't know are how long the symptoms are going to persist."

    He said it would take several months to gather the data and that a follow-up report could be completed by the end of the year.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  7. #37
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    Jan 2005

    Written by ANTHONY DePALMA
    Monday, 05 June 2006

    With mounting evidence that exposure to the toxic smoke and ash at ground zero during the nine-month cleanup has made many people sick, attention is now focusing on the role of air-filtering masks, or respirators, that cost less than $50 and could have shielded workers from some of the toxins.

    More than 150,000 such masks were distributed and only 40,000 people worked on the pile, but most workers either did not have the masks or did not use them.

    These respirators are now at the center of a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 8,000 firefighters, police officers and private workers who say they were exposed to toxic substances at or near ground zero that have made them sick or may eventually do so. While residents and office workers in the area also suffered ill effects, the work crews at the site who had the greatest exposure are thought to have sustained the greatest harm.

    From legal documents presented in the case, a tale emerges of heroic but ineffective efforts to protect workers, with botched opportunities, confused policies and contradictions that failed to ensure their safety.

    Lawyers representing the workers say that there was no central distribution point for the respirators, no single organization responsible for giving them out, and no one with the power to make sure the respirators that were distributed got used, and used properly.

    By contrast, at the Pentagon, workers not wearing proper protective gear were escorted off the site.

    "Employers are responsible for providing a safe workplace," said David Worby, the lawyer whose firm represents the workers. "But the majority of workers at ground zero were given nothing, or had masks that didn't work."

    The allegations are based on the lawyers' review of more than 400,000 pages of official documents and the testimony of 30 government witnesses.

    The city, which is the principal government defendant, has moved to have the lawsuit dismissed. It argues that it and the private contractors it hired to help in the cleanup did their best to provide adequate equipment and to get workers to use it, but many workers ignored the warnings. Many workers cited reasons for not keeping the masks on, like the stifling heat and the difficulty of communicating while wearing them.

    Even if the response to an unprecedented emergency was flawed, the city's lawyers argue, a firmly established legal immunity under the State Defense Emergency Act and other laws protects New York from legal liability.

    Kenneth A. Becker, head of the city's World Trade Center litigation unit, declined to comment on the charges in the complaint, saying it was "inappropriate to comment on pending litigation," beyond what is contained in documents already filed with the court. In those papers, the city argued that its "concern for the health and safety of all workers and volunteers at the W.T.C. site began immediately after the September 11 attacks and continued until the end of the rescue, recovery and debris removal operations."

    Oral argument on the city's motion to dismiss the case is scheduled for June 22 before Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of United States District Court in Manhattan.

    Workplace Hazards
    Ground zero was about the most dangerous workplace imaginable: a smoking heap of nearly two million tons of tangled steel and concrete that contained a brew of toxins, including asbestos, benzene, PCB's, and more than 400 chemicals. Indeed, recent health studies have found that many people who worked on the pile have since developed a rash of serious ailments, including gastrointestinal and respiratory problems.

    In the chaos of the first 48 hours after the twin towers collapsed, only the city's firefighters had any personal protective equipment suitable for such an environment. But even that equipment was not sufficient.

    Each firefighter is issued a full-face mask that is part of a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus, also known as a Scott pack, which functions like scuba gear, supplying air while sealing out hazards.

    But the tanks contain no more than 18 minutes of oxygen. The system works well if a firefighter is dashing into a burning building to rescue a baby. For a nine-month recovery operation, it was useless.

    Once their Scott packs were exhausted, the first firefighters on the scene had no backup gear. That is why Firefighter Palmer Doyle and the crew from Engine Company 254 in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, stopped at a hardware store on the way into Manhattan on Sept. 11 to buy every paper dust mask in stock.

    When he returned to ground zero with 50 other firefighters on a bus a few days later, Firefighter Doyle looked for respirators. He was told there was just one left for the entire crew. It was given to the youngest among them.

    Firefighter Doyle, now 51 and retired with mild asthma, a recurring cough and other work-related problems, said that the firefighters never thought for a second of refusing to work without respirators, but they did wonder when they were going to be available. Records produced in the lawsuit indicate that the Fire Department put in an order with the city for 5,000 P100 Organic Vapor/Acid Gas half-face masks, which cost less than $50 each, and 10,000 replacement filter cartridges on Sept. 28. But the order was not processed for almost two months.

    Such delays remain a sore point. "Firefighters worked during the 9/11 rescue operation with little or no respiratory protection, and anyone who claims differently is lying," said Stephen J. Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. "The department further failed to supply anything but particle masks to its workers until much later."

    In the first few days after Sept. 11, the only types of breathing protection generally available to people at ground zero were surgical masks and paper dust masks, often distributed by volunteers. Even Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Deputy Mayor Rudy Washington, who has qualified for workers' compensation for Sept. 11-related ailments, wore paper masks at that time, although industrial safety officers say they were practically useless.

    When private construction crews first arrived to help with debris removal, they had no air-filtering equipment with them because they do not usually work in such hazardous conditions.

    "For the average Joe, there was nothing," said Robert Gray, a crane operator who is co-author of a new book about the cleanup called "Nine Months at Ground Zero" (Scribner, 2006). Mr. Gray said that after several days, the International Union of Operating Engineers, to which he belongs, brought in a trailer to provide half-face masks and testing to make sure they fit and functioned properly.

    Outside the pile, most workers in the early days of the cleanup had only paper masks, and many of the laborers hired by cleaning contractors to vacuum the asbestos from buildings downtown had nothing at all. The New York Committee on Occupation Safety and Health, a union labor organization, provided checkups and respirators to more than 400 of these laborers, many of them illegal immigrants.

    David M. Newman, an industrial hygienist with the labor committee, said that when federal environmental officials announced that it was safe for people to return to Lower Manhattan so that Wall Street could reopen a week after the towers collapsed, employers suddenly "had a green light to say, 'We don't need to use respirators because the E.P.A. says the air is OK.' "

    He was referring to a statement made on Sept. 18, 2001, by Christie Whitman, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, that air sampling done by her agency showed that the air was safe to breathe. The agency's inspector general concluded in 2003 that Ms. Whitman's statement was far too broad and could not be scientifically supported at the time she made it.

    According to the inspector general's exhaustive recounting of the environmental consequences of Sept. 11, a federal emergency response team prepared a report on the day of the attacks recommending that respirators be used at ground zero.

    But the report was never issued because it was decided that New York City, and not the federal government, should handle worker protection issues.

    As the magnitude of the recovery operation grew clearer, attempts were made to bring order to the operation. On Sept. 20 the city issued its first safety plan, and it asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to take charge of distributing respirators. In what would become a controversial move, OSHA used its discretionary powers to decide not to enforce workplace safety regulations but to act in a supportive role that would not slow down operations.

    "Given that the site was operating under emergency conditions, it was normal that we should suspend our enforcement action and assume the roles of consultation and technical assistance," Patricia Clark, OSHA regional administrator for New York, said in a 2003 OSHA publication.

    OSHA placed emergency orders for tens of thousands of P100 half-face masks with replaceable filters. They cost from $25 to $50 at the time, and were certified to be effective protection against asbestos and most of the dust on the site.

    But Mr. Worby, whose White Plains-based law firm, Worby Groner Edelman Napoli Bern, is handling the workers' joint action suit, said that even these masks were not adequate protection against the chemicals released by the collapsed buildings. He, and others, believe that ground zero should have been declared a toxic waste site, with workers required to wear hazardous-material suits.

    Records produced in the lawsuit indicate that the city did receive 75,000 Tyvek suits, white protective overalls often used at hazardous waste sites, but never distributed them at ground zero.

    Ms. Clark, the OSHA administrator, testified before Congress in October 2003 that the agency distributed 131,000 half-face respirators before the cleanup ended in June 2002, more than three times the number of workers on the site. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency provided 22,000 respirators and the operating engineers' union distributed 11,000.

    There has been no clear accounting of where they all went. But based on witness accounts and reports by safety officers at the site, it appears that most were used improperly and then discarded. OSHA's own regulations require that masks be tested for fit on each individual wearer, and that men with facial hair must shave for the masks to fit properly.

    The lawsuit against the city claims that most of the masks were simply handed out, without instructions or testing for fit. "Respirator fit testing done around the World Trade Center was illusory at best," the lawsuit says.

    A separate lawsuit filed on behalf of downtown residents and schoolchildren exposed to ground zero contamination is pending in federal district court in Manhattan.

    Several health studies have shown that the closer people came to the debris pile in the early days and weeks after the twin towers collapsed, the more serious are the ailments they develop. A city registry of 71,000 people — including responders and residents — exposed to the dust showed that people who live downtown have developed respiratory and mental health problems. But they generally have not been as serious as those reported by people who worked directly on the pile.

    OSHA refused to answer questions about its handling of the respirators. John M. Chavez, a spokesman, said lawyers from the Department of Justice's environmental torts branch, which is handling trade center litigation, advised against talking to reporters about respirators because "the question goes to the heart of the issue of the litigation."

    End Part I
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  8. #38
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    Jan 2005
    Going Without
    After the masks arrived at ground zero, it soon became apparent that distributing them was easier than getting workers to wear them. At that time of passion and heroism, putting on any kind of respirator or mask was an expression of concern about personal safety — and for many that seemed selfish and unpatriotic in the midst of unimaginable disaster.

    By contrast, more than 90 percent of the workers at the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, which was overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers, wore respirators.

    There were other reasons for not wearing the respirators. Scorching temperatures on the pile made working in the masks unbearable. It was nearly impossible for the workers to communicate with each other with masks on, so they pulled them down and many later kept them off. The filters clogged easily in the thick, powdery dust, and replacements were not always readily available.

    But perhaps the greatest impediments to compliance were the confusing guidelines and spotty enforcement efforts. Overseeing the work, and worker safety, was a horde of government entities that, at its peak, exceeded 30 city, state and federal agencies with overlapping jurisdictions and, at times, contradictory policies.

    Statements from the E.P.A. about the air being safe contradicted respirator requirements. OSHA eventually established a green line, which it actually painted around the pile, and ordered respirators to be worn inside the green line. But in November 2001 the various government agencies and private contractors entered into a partnership: OSHA agreed not to issue fines or citations, and the contractors vowed to follow regulations.

    The city, in its legal defense, says it issued advisories, distributed pamphlets and put up signs telling workers to wear respirators. But observers from unions and labor safety organizations, some using binoculars, found no more than half of the workers ever used their respirators. At times, no more than one in five workers were in compliance.

    The compliance problem at ground zero was regularly brought up at daily safety committee hearings held by the city with other agencies and private contractors. But without strict enforcement, the situation never improved. Frustrated contractors doubted that anything short of "having workers' mother on site to admonish them to comply would be effective," according to records of one of the meetings cited in the legal documents.

    Mr. Worby, the lawyer, says attempts to blame the workers for not wearing respirators go against the spirit of New York labor laws, which oblige employers to provide safe working environments. He argued that even if doing so was impractical in the first chaotic days after the attacks, rigorous standards could have been imposed in the many months that followed.

    Lawyers for the injured workers are looking to recoup monetary damages for their pain, suffering, lost days and troubled nights.

    The city and the 190 private companies named in the lawsuit, which was filed last year, say they did the best they could to balance safety with expediency. They point out that in nine months at ground zero, there was not one fatality.

    But several recent health studies have shown that exposure to ground zero dust has caused serious respiratory and gastrointestinal problems in hundreds of people who worked at the site. Doctors have also started to notice an unusual number of lung-scarring diseases, especially among firefighters. So far there has been only one death officially linked to dust exposure, that of Detective James Zadroga, whose death early this year was attributed to lung scarring caused by the work he did at ground zero.

    Both sides in the suit cast an uneasy eye on the future. The city clearly worries that if there is another attack it will not be able to hire contractors and respond to the emergency without fear of becoming entangled in legal liabilities, which could hamper its ability to restore order and protect the city.

    In the same vein, the workers' representatives ask, if they are again called in to help, will the environmental and labor laws intended to protect them be enforced?

    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Program will focus on post-9/11 health problems

    By Kathryn Gill, Freeman staff

    NEW PALTZ - Deadly illnesses and other health problems that have arisen from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks will be the focus of a free daylong conference Monday at SUNY New Paltz.

    The conference begins at 10 a.m. in Room 100 of the campus Lecture Center. It is sponsored by SUNY and The Lower Manhattan Health Project.

    Among the presenters will be Dr. Stephen M. Levin, director of the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program, and individuals who say they suffer from health problems they developed after the World Trade Center's twin towers were demolished by hijacked airplanes.

    Donna Flayhan, a local resident and director of the Lower Manhattan Public Health Project, said the conference is "really important for the public to come to."

    Flayhan said smoke and ash that emerged at ground zero during the nine-month cleanup of the site contained dangerous levels of asbestos and lead cadmium, as well as tiny pieces of glass, all of which have caused health problems and rescue workers, police officers and firefighters.

    Though 150,000 respirator masks were distributed and only 40,000 people worked at the site, most either never received masks or didn't use them.

    A federal lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the more than 8,000 individuals who claim to have gotten sick at ground zero. David Worby, a lawyer whose firm is representing the plaintiffs, will be among the speakers at Monday's event.

    Flayhan says that even though almost five years have passed since the attacks, toxic dust still is circulating around ground zero, getting into ventilation systems and causing continued health problems. And she disputes assurance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the air near the Trade Center site is safe to breathe.

    "The heroes of 9/11 are dying," she said.

    The schedule for Monday's conference in as follows.

    * 10 a.m. to noon: Dr. Stephen Levin, Diane Stein, Dr. Rebecca Bascom, Dr. Christine Oliver and David Worby.

    * 1-3 p.m.: Documentary film "The Toxic Clouds of 9/11: A Looming Health Disaster," by Alison Johnson. (Johnson also made the documentary "Gulf War Syndrome: Aftermath of a Toxic Battlefield.")

    * 3-4 p.m.: Rescue and recovery worker John Feal.

    In the fall of 2005, SUNY New Paltz began offering a minor in Disaster Studies through the Institute for Disaster Mental Health. The minor focuses on training people to deal with natural, technological and manmade disasters and on how such events affect individuals, communities, organizations and the nation.

    "The terrorist bombings in London, the hurricanes in Florida and the (April 2005) floods in Ulster and Orange counties remind us that disaster are not uncommon and can occur anywhere and any time," said James Halpern, director of the institute and professor of psychology at SUNY New Paltz.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  10. #40
    borepstein Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Gold9472
    The tragedy makes James Zadroga, 34, the first rescue worker to die from illness attributed to the Ground Zero rubble, a police spokesperson said yesterday.
    Thanks, I've read about him already.

    Yes, he was a hero, yes, it is very tragic but he was hardly the first victim. maybe, the first clear-cut victim (i.e., if you take someone whose health was not as good as that of a twenty-something well trained cop it might be harder to say what they've died from). But the fact is, many of the rescue workers started to get really sick (cancers, etc.) within the first year or two after 9/11.

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