Fallout from 9/11: 6 years and the news keeps getting worse


Although some charge in lawsuits that the government knew about the 9/11 attacks but refrained from action or even participated in the attacks, no substantial body of credible evidence to support such claims has yet come to light. What has come to light was that during the days and weeks following 9/11 many branches of the government conspired to misrepresent and play down the dangers faced by rescue workers and citizens in lower Manhattan. What is also clear is that the assessments of health risks from the toxic cloud continue to paint a misleading and rosy picture in the face of alarming conditions suffered by workers and citizens.

According to a 2006 report published y the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the symptoms suffered by those exposed to WTC dust are postnasal drip syndrome, asthma, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, essentially comparable to eating bad pizza in a cockroach-infested restaurant. Clearly, the symptoms are worse than these. As early as February of 2002, residents of lower Manhattan were dying of sarcoidosis, an immune disorder caused by toxic exposure, but the NYC report mentions nothing of possible death resulting from exposure. Another 2006 report claims that WTC rescue workers suffered “respiratory symptoms and pulmonary function test abnormalities that persisted up to 2.5 years after the attack,” making no mention of workers who suffered leukemia and organ failures that required life-saving transplants as late as 2006.

However, a 2004 suit filed on behalf of 10,000 NYC residents and rescue workers, charges that the City, the Port Authority, and the contractor in charge of the WTC cleanup were negligent not only in failing to adequately warn workers and residents of the dangers they faced, but in failing to provide adequate safety equipment. In fact, a 2003 report by the Environmental Protection Agency‘s Office of the Inspector general, effectively affirms the former charge. The report says that EPA officials, in collusion with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, pronounced the air in lower Manhattan “safe” when they had insufficient evidence to make such declarations.

The destruction of the WTC resulted in an atmosphere filled with abnormal levels of benzene, asbestos, and heavy metals including mercury, the effects of which go far beyond shortness of breath and heartburn and can include catastrophic results like wrongful death. In addition to the government’s apparent desire to conceal the truth from us, it is troubling to think that these are materials that surround us all day every day, that we are exposed to under normal working conditions. We can only hope that as more people come forward with evidence about the symptoms they’ve suffered we will get closer to the truth about the toxic world we live in every day.