I am a former office worker at Ground Zero affected by the toxic fallout from 9/11. I am outraged that the mental and physical health problems that office workers and the approximately 10,000 non-union clean-up workers are suffering from have received so little attention. And now the Bush administration has fired Dr. John Howard, the former director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health who was an important ally in the fight to monitor and protect the health of World Trade Center workers. Is this not an attack on the living victims of 9/11!
Here’s what has happened.
First, the Bush administration’s Environmental Protection Administration denied that the toxic air caused health problems for those of us who lived and went back to work near Ground Zero. Second, Michael Leavitt replaced Christine Whitman at EPA when she was nailed for not giving correct information about air quality and its effects on people exposed. Third, Congress allocated $108 million to address the health problems of clean-up workers and residents as well as first-responders (cops, firefighters, medical personnel, the 400,000 victims of 9/11’s toxic air.
Finally I felt hope. But wait. Bush probably signed this law to look good, not to do the right thing. That same Michael Leavitt has now become Secretary of Health and Human Services and his department has refused to release the $108 million, saying they need more time to study workers’ exposure to the 9/11 fallout. And it is Michael Leavitt who is now leaving us without an administrator or a program. Without resources and an advocate the victims will die one by one and no one will be held accountable for this atrocity.
Isn’t this the American Way!
Celia Correa, NMASS/BGZ member