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by Wendy Stackhouse · September 11, 2012

Reflections on 9/11: The Air They Breathed

Cross-posted from the AirTek Blog

Today we remember a terrible tragedy but we blog about the tragedy that continues for the first responders, the residents and workers present at and after the tragedy on September 11, 2001 who survived the day, but are suffering today.

We could all see the smoke and dust, but on that day, after the towers fell, the air was filled with:

"heavy metals from computers, cellulose from paper, shards of metal and stone from the buildings’ walls, calcium carbonate from the tons of smashed cement, fibers from rugs, fragments of glass and burned hair."

Discover Magazine, 9/7/11

Unfortunately, it took days to do tests and then those tests were reported to be inconclusive, even though asbestos levels are now known to have been over the "significant risk" level in 25% of tested samples in the first week after the attacks. For whatever reason, EPA Chief Christine Whitman announced on September 13, '"EPA is greatly relieved to have learned that there appears to be no significant levels of asbestos dust in the air in New York City." She added: "We will continue to monitor closely." And five days later, she announced: "I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, D.C., that their air is safe to breath [sic]."' Scientific American, 9/7/2011

Interactive infographic of the air at Ground Zero from Scientific American.

Reuters reports at least 1000 additional deaths from September 11 related illnesses, with 20,000 others currently being treated and 40,000 being monitored. This week, 14 cancers were added to the list of confirmed illnesses arising from exposure to the air at Ground Zero, allowing cancer victims to participate in healthcare programs and receive compensation funds. 400 first responders, workers and residents have already died from 9/11-related cancers.

At AirTek, we are saddened by the terrible losses on September 11, 2001, at Ground Zero, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and in the years since and the continuing suffering of those who gave so much to try to save so many. We are thinking of them all today.

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