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New York Times

Ground Zero Workers Rally For Compensation

By MARCIA KRAMER

September 6, 2006—There is more fallout over a stunning study concerning the devastating health impact from the dust at Ground Zero. Workers say the government lied to them, and told them it was safe to live and work in lower Manhattan after 9/11 when, in fact, the air quality was dangerous.

According to Karah Newton of the group Beyond Ground Zero, "We are here today, because the government lied to us, covered up toxic air after September 11, and people are angry. What happened is we have a lifetime to live with this lie."

Ground Zero cleanup workers and people who live in lower Manhattan are demanding money from Gov. Pataki and others to pay for the lung ailments and other heath problems they developed after 9/11.

"I want the government to try and help for people who are sick, and for probably me and my son and my grandson. They all breathed the air," said lower Manhattan resident Mercedes Esquerette.

Wednesday's comes after dramatic health findings released Tuesday by Mount Sinai Hospital showed that 9/11 first responders are falling sick in huge numbers.

The hospital examined 9,500 Ground Zero workers. It found that:

  • Nearly 70 percent of those who worked at the site developed new or worsened lung symptoms during or after the attacks
  • Some 60 percent of responders who had no health problems before the attacks developed lung symptoms while working in the pit.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, who got federal money to fund the study, had a warning. "We're going to have long-lasting consequences from these exposures," she said.

With city liability a huge issue, Mayor Bloomberg seemed to question the Mount Sinai findings. "I don't believe that you can tell specially that a particular problem came from this. There is no way to tell for sure. And you've got to be very careful. If I say I got something because of this, that's just not the way science works," he said.