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911: Dust - News & Updates

Top Doctors Say Trade Center Dust Could Cause Cancer

By Jill Gardiner
New York Sun
October 4, 2006


Top New York doctors are concerned that the dust cloud that fell on the city after the World Trade Center attack could have contained cancer-causing agents and say individuals who breathed it should be tracked more closely for medical problems, including cancer.

A Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center oncologist, Dr. Larry Norton, said there is "every reason to expect" that the debris could have been carcinogenic.

While he stopped short of predicting higher cancer rates among those who breathed in the air, saying there was no evidence to rely on at this point, the doctor said there is enough concern about ailments, including cancers of the esophagus, head, and neck, to ramp up studies, screenings, and treatments.

"What I'm basically saying is that this requires very serious study and I don't see the funds being made available to really do the proper studies," said Dr. Norton, the physician-in-chief for the breast cancer program at the hospital.

Students Sick With 9/11-Related Illnesses Want Federal Help

New York 1 News
October 2, 2006


In addition to the emotional trauma they faced after the World Trade Center attacks, students who went to schools in Lower Manhattan say they are also facing respiratory problems, and now they also want the federal government's help.

Current and former students were told it was safe to return to class after September 11th, and they did, exposing themselves to the same toxic air inhaled by first responders.

"They were minors during 9/11; they had no options. They were ordered back to school because the EPA said that the air was safe, and they had no ability to say yes or no," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. "And now we're finding out that it may be that some of these children are going to come down with very serious illnesses."

"A major driver of lymphoma is being exposed to excessive amounts of toxins pollutants, which is exactly what we inhaled when we were down here after September 11," said former Stuyvesant High School student Amit Friedlander, who was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. "So I think, whether or not my cancer came from September 11, there definitely will be a lot of people who will be getting sick."


EPA Paper Faults Agency for Thousands of Deaths

By Elizabeth Shogren
National Public Radio News - All Things Considered
October 3, 2006 ·


Internal government documents obtained by NPR indicate that the Environmental Protection Agency could have saved thousands of lives each year if it set a stricter standard for soot in the air we breathe.

Last month, when EPA administrator Steven Johnson set a new standard for how much soot is safe to breathe, he rejected EPA's scientific advisors recommendation to make it tougher. A draft EPA analysis shows that if he had taken their advice, the stricter standard would have saved about twice as many lives each year.

John Walke from the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council says the documents show how deadly Johnson's decision will be for Americans.

"What these explosive charts reveal is that by refusing to strengthen our air quality protections," Walke said, "EPA's political boss sacrificed the lives of five to 10,000 Americans each year, who will now die from air pollution related strokes and heart and lung disease."

Walke provided the documents to NPR. A Bush administration official confirmed their authenticity.

Pentagon Restructures Environmental Strategy

Environmental News Service
December 15, 2004


WASHINGTON, DC - Without public debate or Congressional review, the Pentagon is moving reduce its environmental duties, according to a draft directive that cancels a 1996 Clinton-era policy ensuring that environmental factors are integrated into Defense Department decisionmaking processes that may impact the environment. But at the same time, the Pentagon has a new procurement policy, and is urging employees and military to "buy green."

The draft Department of Defense (DoD) directive, issued October 18, removes the requirement to prevent pollution and minimize adverse environmental impacts, or do anything that does not directly "sustain the national defense mission."

By its terms, this directive covers all "DoD operations, activities, and installations worldwide, including Government-owned/contractor-operated facilities."

The new directive would eliminate provisions that now exist such as,"Reducing risk to human health and the environment by identifying, evaluating, and where necessary, remediating contamination resulting from past DoD activities."

No longer would the Armed Forces be engaged in "Protecting, preserving, and, when required, restoring, and enhancing the quality of the environment," as the 1996 directive mandates.


Learning a Lesson From the 9/11 Health Crisis: Congress Moves to Help Improve Federal Health Response after Future Disasters. Rep. Maloney, who worked to ensure medical monitoring language made the final bill, hails passage, efforts by Sens. Clinton and Voinovich

For Immediate Release September 30, 2006

Contact: Afshin Mohamadi, Communications Director for Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14) 202-225-7944

WASHINGTON, DC – Congress has given final approval to legislation that will help expedite medical monitoring to address possible health effects resulting from future disasters. The provisions are meant to prevent a repeat, after future disasters, of the poor federal response to the 9/11 health crisis.

The medical monitoring language was included in the final version of the SAFE Port Act (H.R. 4954), which passed the House of Representatives late last night. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), who is the House sponsor of similar stand-alone legislation, worked to help ensure that conferees on the port security bill understood the importance of the provisions and included them in the conference report. Earlier this month, Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and George Voinovich (R-OH) had attached the language to the Senate version of the port security bill.

"Since 9/11, the federal government has been detached from the growing health crisis and many of the sick have been left struggling for help," said Maloney. "Clearly, our government was unprepared to deal with the health effects of 9/11. This cannot repeat itself after future disasters. This legislation installs a framework that can be used after a disaster to make sure no American is left unattended.

"I thank Senators Clinton and Voinovich for their leadership in the Senate to help ensure that the poor response to the 9/11 health crisis is not repeated after future disasters."

The medical monitoring provisions acknowledge the need for robust medical monitoring if there are health concerns after future disasters, and they also acknowledge that a framework to accomplish this does not currently exist. After future disasters, the president, in conjunction with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, will determine if medical monitoring is necessary based on exposure to substances of concern. If medical monitoring is necessary, the monitoring program will encompass all responders, area residents, area office workers and area school children.

Earlier in the 109th Congress, Maloney had introduced a stand-alone bill with similar medical monitoring language (http://maloney.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=982&Itemid=61 ).

In May 2005, she was denied from offering similar language as an amendment to the Homeland Security Authorization bill (http://maloney.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=96&Itemid=61 ).


No Remains in Bank Building, 9/11 Kin Told

By Greg B. Smith
Daily News
September 29, 2006


State officials said last night they believe there are no more remains of 9/11 victims inside the former Deutsche Bank building - drawing angry responses from victims' families.

Ground Zero rebuilding chiefs told a Town Hall meeting they plan to go ahead with demolition of the heavily damaged skyscraper.

"The opinion of the experts is there is no likelihood of finding human remains," said Charles Maikish, of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center.

His words drew a scathing response from some family members of terror attack victims, who are demanding a more-painstaking search.

"It makes me wonder if you're paying attention to this issue," said Diane Horning of World Trade Center Families for Proper Burial.

More than 700 human bone fragments were found on the roof of the former Deutsche Bank building on Liberty St.

But other parts of the building have never been thoroughly searched and some relatives accused officials of ignoring their concerns.

"What bothers me is that we have to come up here and ask about it," said Charles Wolfe, whose wife worked on the 97th floor of the north tower.


Stuyvesant Grads Say They Returned Too Soon After 9/11

By Eric Krangel
New York Sun
October 2, 2006


When federal officials told students at Stuyvesant High School to return to school less than a month after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, they said the school — located blocks from ground zero in TriBeCa — was safe. Nearly five years later, alumni of the prestigious public school say they were sent back too soon.

Dozens of the graduates returned to Stuyvesant yesterday, this time to stand with local politicians who are calling for increased federal funding for medical studies and health aid aimed at the thousands of people who may have developed illnesses related to the September 11 attacks.

"The federal government lied," Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who represents Lower Manhattan, said. "They judged getting the economy moving a little more quickly was more important than the health of thousands of workers and children."


PA Plans to Close Labs, Drop Scientists and Reduce Oversight

By David Goldstein
McClatchy Newspapers
September 15, 2006


WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency intends to close labs, cut its cadre of upper-level scientists and reduce regulatory oversight, according to an internal agency document.

In a memo dated June 8, a top agency official outlined "a set of proposed disinvestments, innovations, efficiencies and consolidations" for the upcoming 2008 fiscal budget.

"The decisions we make will be critical, difficult and will have long-term consequences," EPA Chief Financial Officer Lyons Gray wrote.

He said the EPA wanted to limit duplication and find "opportunities for consolidation and streamlining." EPA assistant administrators, regional administrators, the general counsel and inspector general received the memo.

Gray called for creating "Centers of Excellence" within the agency that would manage "contracts, grants and human resource work."


Filmmaker Puts Courage of Detective Kin on Big Screen

By Ernie Naspretto
Daily News
September 12, 2006


A filmmaker who felt a need to speak for her detective brother-in-law has made a documentary showing his life in the wake of the 9/11 recovery efforts.

"Vito dealt with 9/11 and the months of recovery work with courage and humility. It left me in awe," said filmmaker Maria Pusateri. "Knowing he was just one of so many that gave of themselves, I wanted to tell his story, not only for him but for all of them."

"Vito" is Detective Vito Friscia, 40, a New York City homicide detective assigned to Brooklyn, who responded to the World Trade Center on 9/11 and remained at Ground Zero for two weeks. He then worked at the Staten Island Fresh Kills landfill until March 2002, sifting through debris in search of signs of victims to help bring closure to their families.

"I would do it all over again and again and again," Friscia says in the film, titled "Vito After," which was released Sunday.


Sept. 11 Rescuers Are Getting Sick

By Dr. David L. Katz
The New York Times Syndicate
September 11, 2006


Medically, Sept. 11, 2001, may just be beginning. Five years ago the pulverized contents of everything in the Twin Towers created a vapor containing highly toxic substances, including mercury, asbestos, silica, lead and solvents. Nearly 40,000 people who responded to the fall of the World Trade Center towers, in every role from rescue and recovery to hauling and excavation, breathed in those fumes. They are beginning to get sick now, and probably will continue to sicken for years to come.

Last week in Manhattan I met several victims -- not of Sept.11 itself, but of the days and weeks that followed -- while I was filming a segment of "The Montel Williams Show" commemorating the 5-year anniversary of Sept. 11, scheduled to air on Sept. 12.

One guest lost his wife, a paramedic, to mesothelioma: a rare tumor of the lung lining associated almost exclusively with the inhalation of asbestos. Ordinarily, mesothelioma develops and causes death two decades or more after asbestos exposure. Yet this woman was exposed, and died, within only three years.

If one case of mesothelioma occurred at an unusually accelerated rate, it suggests that others will follow at a more customary pace. Fifteen or 20 years from now, we may see an upsurge in lethal tumors among Ground Zero rescuers that are a direct result of the time they spent clearing what quickly became known as "The Pile."

Far more common will be various disabling lung diseases that resemble emphysema. Hundreds of such cases have been diagnosed already, while hundreds or perhaps thousands more may be diagnosed in years to come.


Win on 9/11 Health

By Paul H.B. Shin
Daily News
September 1, 2006


The City Health Department yesterday finally issued long-awaited guidelines for front-line doctors on how to spot and treat illnesses related to the World Trade Center disaster, barely two weeks shy of the fifth anniversary of 9/11.

But critics overwhelmingly blasted the agency for taking so long to publish recommendations that could have spared an untold number of ailing New Yorkers from suffering unnecessarily.

"It's outrageous that it took them so long," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens).

Maloney noted that congressional testimony from doctors who have been treating patients exposed to toxins and dust from Ground Zero revealed that 30% to 40% of them were being misdiagnosed or getting the wrong treatment from their own physicians.


9/11 Benefits Mean Cut$, Bloomy Fumes

By Carl Campanile and David Seifman
New York Post
August 15, 2006


An angry Mayor Bloomberg blasted Gov. Pataki yesterday for signing into law several bills to benefit Ground Zero workers - charging that the city will have to close firehouses, limit library hours or raise taxes to meet the staggering cost.

"Somebody's got to pay for all these things," Bloomberg said, adding, "There's no free lunch, and Albany doesn't seem to understand that."