Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Health Risks Near Ground Zero?

A number of articles and stories suggest that some people who lived or worked near Ground Zero after the September 11 attacks have developed health problems.


Air Quality At Ground Zero
Gotham Gazette - May 2, 2002
Eric Goldstein, Gotham Gazette's Environment columnist, takes a look at the Environmental Protection Agency's reversal of policy this week concerning indoor cleaning and testing for air quality. Is it too little, too late? Or a triumph for New Yorkers?

Breathing the Air Downtown
New York Times - Feb 22, 2002
In this editorial, the Times criticizes the government's failure to provide leadership concerning the issue of air quality and its health effects downtown. In particular, it cites worries about the air quality of indoor environments.

Give Us Back Our Neighborhood
Gotham Gazette - December 10, 2001
Madelyn Wils, the only member of the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corporation who actually lives in Lower Manhattan, blasts the city for its inaction in helping the residents living near Ground Zero.

Environmental Aftermath
Gotham Gazette - October 22, 2001
The hundreds of government scientists who have been testing the air in lower Manhattan have reported that there is little to worry about. Yet in the last two weeks it has become increasingly apparent, Michael Burger charges, that the scientists are not looking for precisely the right thing -- or, if they are, they are not releasing that information to the public.

More Resources

Government Information

EPA Response to September 11

Lower Manhattan air monitoring news /html/dep/html/airmonit.html

NYC Department of Environmental Protection /home.html

NYC Health Department Responds to Concerns About Air Quality in Lower Manhattan

OSHA Map of Asbestos Sample Data for Lower Manhattan disaster/map.html


The Environmental Impacts of the World Trade Center Attacks
The National Resources Defense Council's new report lays out the facts about the environmental concerns downtown and analyzes the government's response.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Federal Withholding of Air Quality Test Results
This article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch broke news that results from tests conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey that revealed the dust around the World Trade Center to be as "caustic as liquid drain cleaner" were never released to the public.

UC-Davis Report on Air Sampling Downtown
An independent study set a mile north of the World Trade Center reveals highly contaminated air downtown.

NYC Department Of Health Presents Findings From Indoor Air Sampling In Lower Manhattan
The city agency releases its initial findings from indoor tests of thirty buildings throughout the downtown area.

News Stories

Uncertainty Lingers Over 9/11 Air Pollution - Sep 7, 2003
The air in Lower Manhattan after Sept. 11 has swirled back into the news -- what people knew about it, when they knew it and what they said about it. The underlying issue, researchers, doctors and politicians say, remains just as unresolved today as it was back then in the chaotic, emotional days after the attacks: How do you communicate something about which no one has ever had any experience? Was there a standard of confidence about the environmental risks and unknowns that was scientifically or perhaps even morally appropriate under the circumstances? (New York Times)

300,000 Around WTC to be Studied for 20 Years - Sep 6, 2003
Some 300,000 people who lived, worked or were near Ground Zero after Sept. 11, 2001, are being asked to join an official registry to monitor any health effects from the World Trade Center debris plume. (New York Daily News)

EPA Assured Public Before Actual Testing - Aug 28, 2003
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, testing to monitor levels of debris dust didn't begin for 10 days - and analysis of the findings didn't become available until October. Months later EPA scientists would conclude that the dust caused lung disease in test animals - ailments that mimicked those reported in people who lived and worked near Ground Zero. (Newsday)

Governor Wants To Know How Dangerous 9/11 Air Really Was - Aug 28, 2003
Six days after a federal report said the White House misled New Yorkers about the air around Ground Zero after Sept. 11, Gov. Pataki said yesterday he wants to know how dangerous it really was. But Pataki stopped short of criticizing President Bush, his fellow Republican, and didn't support a call from Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) to reclean area buildings. (New York Daily News)

Residents Angry, but not Surprised at Premature E.P.A. 9/11 Air Reports - Aug 21, 2003
Downtowners expressed outrage but little surprise last week at the news that the White House allegedly influenced statements the Environmental Protection Agency made soon after the collapse of the World Trade Center about air quality in Lower Manhattan. (Downtown Express)

Downtown Moms Question W.T.C.Baby Study Findings - Aug 14, 2003
Despite research showing a possible link between trade center toxins and lower baby birth weight, several downtown mothers who participated in a recent study said last week that the preliminary results did not appear to describe them or their babies. Mount Sinai School of Medicine tracked 182 women who were pregnant and in the vicinity of the World Trade Center on Sept.11, 2001, or within three weeks thereafter. In results released last week, researchers found that women who were exposed to dust from the trade center collapse were twice as likely as a control group to have babies who were slightly small for their gestational age, or for the amount of time they spent in the womb. (Downtown Express)

WTC Health Problems Persist - Aug 11, 2003
Thousands of New Yorkers say they still suffer from the World Trade Center attacks - and they are reaching out to help hot lines in numbers greater than last year, The Post has learned. Callers are seeking assistance for health complaints - ranging from respiratory ailments and pneumonia to acid reflux - that many link to the toxic plume created when the Twin Towers fell, as well as for post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. (New York Post)

Feds Launch Long-term WTC Health Studies - Aug 10, 2003
Long-term studies to monitor the health effects of the World Trade Center attacks on New Yorkers are getting under way. A 20-year study conducted by the city Department of Health and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will begin in September or soon after to identify patterns of physical and psychological illness attributable to 9/11. (New York Post)

Smoke and Dust at World Trade Center Is Linked to Smaller Babies - Aug 6, 2003
Scientists say they have measured a slight but significant rise in the percentage of small babies born to women who were around the World Trade Center during or after the terror attack compared with babies of a large sample of pregnant women who were elsewhere at the time. The researchers, from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, proposed that air pollution from the pulverized, smoldering wreckage was the most likely cause of the difference. (New York Times)

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