11 Sep 2003 The EPA and Ground Zero
Mike Catanzaro over at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has sent over a few excerpts from New York Times editorials of today and September 8 regarding the 9-11/EPA/contaminated air controversy:
From September 8:
The Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality have been sharply criticized for playing down the potential dangers of exposure to ash, smoke and dust generated by the collapse of the World Trade Center. The inspector general of the E.P.A. has criticized the agency for making overly reassuring statements that could not be supported by any evidence in hand, and blamed the environmental council for pushing the E.P.A. to eliminate caveats and accentuate the positive. Our own sense is that much of the criticism is retrospective nitpicking of decisions made in the midst of a crisis…
From today’s editorial:
And most residents and workers downtown – while they may well have suffered from the dust at the collapse and periodic wafts from the smoke plume – were largely spared the prolonged exposure that usually raised the greatest health concerns.
But at the same time, the new research underscored how quickly the smoke and its elements dissipated into the atmosphere. The plume was so hot from the intense fires, which smoldered for three months after the attacks, that only sporadically, scientists said, did it touch down anywhere beyond ground zero. Hot air rises, and it went up fast.
What that presents, the scientists said, is a kind of good-news-bad-news formulation. Many ground zero workers and volunteers who labored without respirators – a common sight in the early weeks of rescue and recovery – were exposed to a chemical stew that was probably worse, and certainly more complex in its elements, than previously imagined. And most residents and workers downtown – while they may well have suffered from the dust at the collapse and periodic wafts from the smoke plume – were largely spared the prolonged exposure that usually raised the greatest health concerns.