As pointed out in 911jobforums, as the death toll of first responders nears 1,000, local politicians are demanding that autopsy standards be developed to pinpoint the causes. The number of Ground Zero first responders has risen past 916 to date, yet oddly no one knows what really killed them.
Permit me to make some suggestions regarding the poisons those responders who died carried in them, and those that survived may be carrying with them now. These are based on the excellent film documentary, Dust To Dust—The health effects of 9/11, made by Heidi Dehncke-Fisher, a film I reviewed in 911’s second round of slaughter.
During the opening, Dehncke-Fisher supers on the screen “a short list” of some of the 2,500 deadly contaminants that erupted from the explosion of the World Trade Center Towers, that is, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, plus two fuel-laden jetliners that all turned into a toxic gray dust that hung in the air, as well as settled in people’s lungs, on area streets, vehicles, buildings, residences, both outside and inside the city for months . . .
- Over 400 tons of asbestos, which once inhaled in any quantity cannot be expelled by the lungs.
- 90,000 liters of jet fuel containing benzene, a carcinogen that suppresses the immune system and causes leukemia.
- Mercury from over 500,000 fluorescent lights that is toxic to the nervous system, and damaging especially to the kidneys.
- 200,000 pounds of lead and cadmium from personal computers, toxic to the respiratory track, especially damaging to kidneys.
- Polycystic aromatic hydrocarbons that cause lung, laryngeal and throat cancers.
- 130,000 gallons of transformer oil with PCBs, causing serious skin rashes and liver damage.
- Crystalline Silica from 420,000 tons of concrete, sheetrock and glass (tiny particulates that lodge in the heart, causing ischemic heart disease).
Most recently, you can add to that list, thermite, thermate and nanothermite, which chemist Kevin Ryan discovered both at Ground Zero and in the tissue of many first responders. I reported his findings in Chemist Kevin Ryan cites energetic materials as potential cause of 9/11 First Responders’ Illnesses.
Is it surprising to anyone that the above witch’s brew could trigger nearly 1,000 deaths? Look at the list of illnesses and organs they affect: the lungs, the immune system, the respiratory track, the kidneys, laryngeal and throat areas, the skin, the heart, most all of the vital organs.
It didn’t help either that then-Mayor Giuliani rushed the GZ crews to work round the clock with only paper masks, not real respirators. In fact, there was no encouragement to use either, and the first responders often worked without either. Despite the fact that Giuliani had two and a half years to get this project done, it was completed in eight months, and at what cost: to destroy the most important crime scene in the greatest crime committed against the US on its soil in history; and to help sicken thousands of first responders and kill a thousand or more soon.
Add to that, Christine Todd Whitman, as Dust to Dust points out, the EPA administrator, at the time constantly told New York and the world there was “no reason for the general public to be concerned.” Perhaps now, she realizes there was a great deal of reason to be concerned. Of course, warnings had come from Dr. Stephen Levin, head of the Mont Sinai Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine. He had told of how he and his colleagues could see early on that these people were being exposed to cancer-causing materials that would end in disaster, even as Whitman reassured everyone that we were “Not getting elevated levels causing concern.”
In fact, by September 13, 2001, the inadequate ambient air samples led the EPA to claim the air was “Below levels of concern.” Yet, many contaminants had simply not been tested for. The EPA ombudsman, said, “You can’t find what you don’t look for.” So bad marks must be given to the EPA, old news as we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and living survivors are battling for their lives as 916 of them have lost that battle.
Also, Michael Brown, who was deputy director of FEMA at the time, consistently told New York and the world there was “No reason for the general public to be concerned.” Of course, former President Bush, V.P. Dick Cheney, and Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared without facemasks to make sure no one asked for one or to use. Talk about role models. Former President Bush’s head of the White House Environmental Council, James Connaugton, previously represented large corporations like ARCO in disputes about cleaning up toxic waste sites. Adding insult to injury, he had formerly worked against the EPA, such as it was.
But as early as September 14, 2001,, the EPA started reading out “samples [that] showed levels of asbestos ranging from 2.1% to 3.3% . . .” (The EPA conceded back then that a 1 percent level could be defined as an asbestos-contaminating material.) The difference between 1 percent and 3.3 percent was serious enough, as time has shown, to hurt or kill people, especially given repeated exposure. So any numbers games here were criminal. In contrast, the first responders working at the Pentagon site in Washington, D.C., had to wear respirators to go to work at the disaster site, absolutely, no questions asked. But in NYC, we had to get Wall Street working again, so the money not lives came first.
Now, after years of fighting to make the $4.2 billion Zagroda bill a reality, the legislation will hopefully also reopen the federal Victim Compensation Fund to provide economic relief to those harmed by the attacks, which killed more than 2,700 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
But once again, “New York lawmakers are urging the federal Department of Health and Human Services to draft autopsy protocols to pinpoint 9/11-related fatalities, the Daily News has learned.” Though the killer dust was let out of the bag almost a decade ago, let’s learn from that mistake, and do the right thing now.
The NYC legislators have written that, “There are no written standards to help doctors diagnose post-9/11 deaths, leaving a void that’s wreaked enormous emotional pain and conflict on survivors.”
“It was heart-rending,” said Joe Zadroga, who watched his NYPD officer son, James, for whom the bill is named, slowly deteriorate from his scarred lungs until he died in 2007.
Relatives knew in their hearts all the while what really killed their hero family members was the constant work at Ground Zero. But why should other families and friends have to suffer the same loss, the same way?
Thus, Reps. Jerry Naddler (D-Manhattan), (Pete King, R-L.I.) and Carolyn Malone (D-Manhattan) wrote in a letter to the feds, “In a study released in June last year, state officials identified 836 responders who have died since 9/11. Advocates know of at least 80 more, and doctors believe the total will be well over 1,000 in the next survey this year.”
“We do not know to what extent WTC exposures contributed to their deaths, or whether their deaths were unrelated,” the lawmakers wrote, seeking a set of guidelines.
Frankly, unless those responders were hit by a bus, or obviously playing sick, I don’t see how WTC exposures could be unrelated. So let’s be real. If autopsies can help doctors understand Ground Zero illnesses in any way, they should be undertaken. Let’s not worry about the so-called, cost-cutting Republicans in Congress. Let them cut their expense accounts, their limos, or their healthcare.
Joe Zadroga did say that “I agree with setting some standards so there wouldn’t be fraud.” And I agree. But let’s be sure we draw that line carefully, considering lives are hanging on it.
Zadroga added, “Most of these guys who are dying are dying from lung conditions and cancers. My son’s lungs were like leather.”
And so it goes: always enough money for war, never enough for its victims. The Zadroga bill was originally budgeted at $7.4 billion for the 10,000 or more victims.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long resident of New York City. An EBook version of his book of poems “State Of Shock,” on 9/11 and its after effects is now available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He has also written hundreds of articles on politics and government as Associate Editor of Intrepid Report (formerly Online Journal). Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.