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Deadly Dust: The Story of The Air Quality at Ground Zero

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On September 11, 2001, America fell victim to the most heinous attacks of terrorism ever witnessed. Thousands of innocent people were killed and the World Trade Towers, an American landmark that represented prosperity, were completely eradicated. In the wake of these horrific acts, many of the first responders at the World Trade Center site have experienced severe health complications in the years following the attacks. While working on clean-up, rescue and communication efforts, thousands of people were exposed to the toxins that permeated the air of Lower Manhattan. Unfortunately, due the urgency of the situation, proper protective measures were not taken to ensure the safety of all who would be exposed to the toxic air. In the documentary Deadly Dust viewers were introduced to several individuals, whose health has been significantly altered as a result of their exposure to the deadly dust, giving a more personal perspective on the devastation caused by the attacks.

John Walcott was a NYPD Detective, diagnosed with leukemia 18- months after 9/11. Prior to the attacks, he was a healthy and productive husband and father. After the attacks and his subsequent illness, he has been reduced to depending on family and friends for monetary support. Alex Sanchez worked as part of the clean-up crew for the buildings directly across from the former Twin Towers. He has suffered from chronic respiratory illness and can no longer work. He has a young son and must provide for him, currently, he received $300 in disability benefits every week. Gary Acker helped set up telecommunications after the attacks and has now been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. All of these cases, in addition to several others that were not showcased in this documentary, shed light on the possibly that the infamous area called "the pile" was emitting several cancer causing agents, exposing the workers to toxic synergy. This phenomenon is the reason for the shortening of the latency period in these illnesses, which I believe has caused such speculation in the origin of the patient's diagnoses.

Shortly after the attacks, the head of the Environmentally Protection Agency, Christine Todd Whitman, stated that the air quality in Lower Manhattan posed no health concern to the many volunteers, residents and volunteers breathing the contaminated air on a daily basis. Many would argue that if she even eluded to the fact that there were cancerous pollutants in the air, it would have caused mass hysteria in Lower Manhattan and arguably the rest of New York City. However, I believe that there should have been a warning to the workers and residents of the area to use precautions to prevent extended exposure from the dust. In the footage from the Deadly Dust many workers were not wearing even a basic face mask as they worked diligently to clean up the massive amounts of steel and debris that once was the World Trade Center. They were exposed to over 400 tons of asbestos



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