15 August 2003

Salon.com News | The toxic fallout of 9/11:
The building was directly downwind of the plume of toxic debris pumped through Manhattan and Brooklyn by the force of the Trade Center collapse, and it provides one of the best records of what made up the cloud. For months after the attacks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency insisted that the dust contained few contaminants and posed little health risk to anyone but those caught in the initial plume from the towers' collapse. 'Everything we've tested for, which includes asbestos, lead, and volatile organic compounds, have been below any level of concern for the general public health,' Christine Todd Whitman, then the Bush administration's EPA chief, told PBS 'NewsHour' in April 2002. Even last December, assistant regional EPA administrator Kathleen Callahan reiterated that assessment before the New York City Council: 'I think the results that we're getting back show that there isn't contamination everywhere.'

But Deutsche Bank's owners, curious to know the extent of their liability and to properly evaluate the potential danger to their own employees, privately conducted their own extensive tests. The findings: Astronomical levels of asbestos and a long list of toxic ingredients that pose a significant risk of cancer, birth defects, nerve damage and other ominous health problems.

More than 2,000 buildings in lower Manhattan were exposed to the same wave of debris and dust, and many were filled with residents and office workers within days after the attacks. Today, the Deutsche Bank findings and an emerging body of studies by private agencies and the EPA itself sharply contradict the initial EPA assessment and suggest that the federal government overlooked a substantial threat that could ultimately harm more people than the terrorist attacks.

Another example of a rightwing government subordinating everything, including the health of those very emergency workers who were getting such fulsome praise from the same government, to considerations of national security. Sadly by the time the health stats start piling up Bush and his administration will be long gone and invulnerable to accountability.

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