To the Editor:
The report released by New York City discrediting the claimed health problems suffered by 9/11 rescue and clean-up workers flies in the face of thousands of people's experiences. First, based only on medical records, the report neglects the severity of seemingly benign upper-respiratory symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath. Second, it fails to consider the 9/11 health fallout, as thousands of low-wage, private sector employees now suffering from much more than stuffy noses or coughs--serious pulmonary problems, asthma, persistent rashes, and depression--are not represented in the lawsuit. Third, the report is premature: the World Trade Center Environmental Health Center, comprising three city hospital clinics, has yet to release its empirical data demonstrating the range of maladies that doctors at Bellevue, Elmhurst, and Gouverneur have diagnosed. And finally, personal experience with assisting workers who are applying for benefits from New York's Workers' Compensation Board suggests that many clean-up workers hired by private contractors, often for less than minimum wage, have suffered in silence--either they did not know their conditions were related to 9/11 exposure or thought they could not afford medical care (free services are available at the Center--http://www.nyc.gov/html/hhc/html/services/wtc-health-center.shtml).
JoAnn Lum, Beyond Ground Zero Network
212-358-0295 / email@example.com