Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Congressman "Outraged" by EPA's Response to Sept. 11. (World Trade Center)

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Congressman "Outraged" by EPA's Response to Sept. 11. (World Trade Center)

Article excerpt

Five months after the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC), the people in Lower Manhattan still do not know whether it is safe to live and work in the area, according to Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., whose district includes "Ground Zero."

At a Feb. 11 field hearing in New York City (NYC) organized by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., other politicians and residents questioned the way local and federal agencies handled air quality issues stemming from the buildings' collapse.

"I'm concerned that some testing was done that was not immediately made public," Clinton said at the hearing. She focused on the need to fund testing and medical monitoring over the next 20 years for people exposed to the contamination.

Stephen Levin, medical director of the Irving J. Selikoff Clinical Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine at NYC's Mount Sinai Medical Center, said he already had treated hundreds of workers with respiratory problems stemming from the cleanup effort.

Nadler voiced the bluntest attacks on local and federal government response to Sept. 11. He charged that:

* EPA Administrator Christie Whitman misled the public Sept. 18 when she said the air in Lower Manhattan was safe to breathe without the indoor air data necessary to make such a pronouncement;

* EPA knowingly withheld critical data regarding the causticity of the dust in the area and made conflicting statements about the presence of hazardous materials;

* EPA delegated authority for testing indoor air quality to NYC, while doing nothing to ensure the response by local officials was appropriate; and

* EPA has treated NYC differently from other communities contaminated by hazardous materials. …

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