Wednesday, September 06, 2006

70% of Ground Zero workers have major health problems

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media. Recommended at Daily Kos

I'm in a truly foul mood. In this "all 9/11 propaganda all the time" world we are in now, especially as we are coming up on the 5th anniversary of the attacks, a major study to be released tomorrow by The Mount Sinai Medical Center will provide more proof that politics, warmongering, lies, propaganda, photo ops and flat out negligence by the Bush Administration, as well as NYC Mayor Bloomberg are more important than the extremely brave people who worked tirelessly at Ground Zero in the days and weeks after the attacks.

Not only that, but it really makes me wonder what kind of liability our own government has towards these families since we now know that the Bush Administration ordered the EPA to lie about the air quality at Ground Zero. And while we are all talking about the ABC propagandafest (and doing a great job of keeping the pressure on, I might add), there have been some big developments in recent days surrounding the people who spent countless hours at Ground Zero.

Now, I don't know if it is making even a peep outside of NYC, but there have been numerous stories here in the NY Daily News about Ground Zero workers over the past couple of days. And with all of the exploiting of what better not become a national holiday, complete with 9/11 blowout sales and price reductions, these heroes lives, and their health issues have been completely ignored. Which, frankly, is total bullshit, considering the fact that many of them put in way more hours and time than was required - just to help out their fellow Americans at a great time of need and sorrow.

The report which was conducted by Mount Sinai included nearly 12,000 workers over a nearly two year period, and will be released in full tomorrow in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. According to the press release:

The findings are based upon medical examinations performed between July 2002 and April 2004 on 9,500 WTC responders. These responders were a highly diverse group and included members of the building trades, law enforcement officers, firefighters, utilities and telecommunications workers, transit workers, and many others. All received a comprehensive examination that included complete physical examination, mental health evaluation, pulmonary function tests, chest x-ray, blood tests and urinalysis. Overall, the monitoring program examined close to 12,000 responders during the 21-month period covered by the study; 9,500 of whom agreed to allow their results to be used in this report.

So we are talking about a wide sample of people here, as well as a wide array of tests. And the results, while predictable to those of us in the reality based community, are still very scary. Not only because of the findings to those who were down in Ground Zero over this period of time, but also for anyone else who lived or worked down by Ground Zero (including yours truly, who worked at the World Financial Center from May 2002 through July 2003). It discusses pulmonary abnormalities in workers which were twice the expected rate for the general population, and continued for months after the exposure.

The study published today focuses on respiratory health consequences, one of the earliest areas of concern to emerge. The study found that many responders were symptomatic, with high rates of pulmonary function abnormalities as long as two-and-a-half years after the disaster. The findings are particularly striking, in that the workers who served at the World Trade Center tended to be vigorous, healthy workers who held jobs in strenuous professions such as the building and utility trades before September 11. Specific findings included:

  • Almost 70 percent of World Trade Center responders had a new or worsened respiratory symptom that developed during or after their time working at the WTC;

  • Among the responders who were asymptomatic before 9/11, 61 percent developed respiratory symptoms while working at the WTC;

  • Close to 60 percent still had a new or worsened respiratory symptom at the time of their examination;

  • One third had abnormal pulmonary function tests, much higher than expected;

  • Severe respiratory conditions including pneumonia were significantly more common in the six months after 9/11 than in six months prior.

But wait, it gets worse.

There was a diary posted earlier today by Ira R Allen (which got no comments and a lonely recommend from yours truly) about this study, but talks about the lack of health insurance for many of the Ground Zero workers.

According to the diary, as well as the NY Times article on the study, contains a startling quote from Dr. Robin Herbert, co-director of Mount Sinai's World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program:

Most of the ground zero workers in the study who reported trouble breathing while working there were still having those problems up to two and a half years later, an indication that the illnesses are becoming chronic and are not likely to improve over time. Some of them worked without face masks, or with flimsy ones. "There should no longer be any doubt about the health effects of the World Trade Center disaster," said Dr. Robin Herbert, co-director of Mount Sinai's World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program. "Our patients are sick, and they will need ongoing care for the rest of their lives."

Dr. Herbert called the findings, which will be published tomorrow in Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, "very worrisome," especially because 40 percent of those who went to Mount Sinai for medical screening did not have health insurance, and will thus not get proper medical care. The Mount Sinai results found, as studies done by the New York City Fire Department also have, that those who showed up in the first hours and days after the twin towers collapsed have the worst medical problems. Seventy percent of the workers in the study arrived at the site between Sept. 11 and Sept. 13.

And what does NYC's top official, "Mayor Mike" have to say about this? Well, I'll give you a hint - it is the same up front truthiness that he exhibited when lying talking about the reasons for blocking the protests during the 2004 republicna convention:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, speaking at a news conference at City Hall yesterday, questioned the conclusiveness of the study, saying that statistics could suggest a connection between events, but not prove a direct link.

"I don't believe that you can say specifically a particular problem came from this particular event," he said.

Yeah, right. Then please explain how over a dozen search dogs who were at Ground Zero have died between 9/11 and mid 2004. Or how so many "coincidental" cancer deaths have occurred for people who were down at Ground Zero. Or please explain the following quote about the toxic nature of the materials and debris from the World Trade Center:

The doctors said that the persistent nature of the respiratory symptoms raised troubling questions about the workers' long-term health. Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, a founder of the screening program at Mount Sinai and an author of the new study, said that the toxic nature of the trade center dust had led doctors to conclude that there would be serious health issues for years to come, especially for workers who were exposed to the heaviest concentrations in the early days after the terrorist attack.

"This was extremely toxic dust," Dr. Landrigan said, noting that some samples showed the dust to be as caustic as drain cleaner. The dust also contained innumerable tiny shards of glass, which could get lodged in the lungs, and a stew of toxic and carcinogenic substances, like asbestos and dioxin, that could potentially lead to cancer decades from now.

Oh I see. It is ok to play politics with Ground Zero and the horrific tragedy that occurred nearly five years ago. But when it comes to actually helping out those who are in need - just like the soldiers who have been sent to fight and die for a lie without proper armor or equipment (or a plan), just like those who were stranded in the Gulf Coast while a hurricane that the entire world saw coming demolished the entire region, just like the entire middle and lower class - then it is "tough shit, there is nothing to see here, please kindly move along while we steal your money, your pride and your life".

Just disgusting. Let's not let the stories of these workers and heroes fall by the wayside. Let's not forget how many more people's lives and health is at risk.

And let's not forget that it was the White House who lied about the air quality at Ground Zero, or that the mayor of NYC is denying the overwhelming evidence of the cause-effect relationship between Ground Zero and the health of the people who so bravely spent countless hours helping out their fellow Americans.

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