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Deadly heroic deed

The medals do not help New York's rescuers when the heart and lungs are destroyed by the poison dust that settled after September 11.


[terror] John Sferanzo was one of the rescue

the men at Ground Zero. He tells Ny Tid that he knows of at least 24 former colleagues who died in the years after the twin towers collapsed on September 11, 2001. He himself has developed serious breathing problems and a chronic cough which he describes as the "ground zero syndrome".

- Bush is failing New Yorkers. In its eagerness to reopen Wall Street quickly, the government deliberately chose to lie about air quality in and around Ground Zero. This is what Congress member Jerrold Nadler says in an exclusive interview with Ny Tid.

Almost five years after 11 September 2001, tragedy is becoming one of the hottest topics in this autumn's congressional elections. Nadler represents lower Manhattan in Congress and is one of the Bush administration's foremost critics. To Ny Tid, he reaches out to the president's lack of support for the rescue crews and victims.

- In its eagerness to reopen Wall Street, the government deliberately chose to lie about the air quality around Ground Zero.

Jerrold Nadler, congressman

The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York recently released a study showing that more than 75 percent of emergency responders, including volunteers, had severe breathing problems and respiratory infections more than eight months after the disaster. That equates to 12.000 people. Another survey, which includes 70.000 residents, students and other workers in Lower Manhattan, shows that more than half of them have developed serious breathing problems and lung diseases.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), released last month, shows the same: a startling increase in the number of serious physical and mental injuries for those living around Ground Zero. All these studies confirm what Nadler, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and medical experts have been claiming for four and a half years: The air quality after September 11, 2001 represents a very serious long-term threat to public health. The reports also document that out of the 8000 who were under the thick cloud of dust this morning, 60 percent had severe breathing problems or developed lung disease. At least three people have died in the years following the terrorist attack, most recently a police investigator.

Copiers and paints

Thousands of computers, copiers and fluorescent lights were totally smashed and emitted tiny particles of polluting lead and mercury as the twin towers collapsed. So did 464.000 square feet of spray-painted walls and surfaces, 560.000 square feet of wall, 650.000 square feet of floor covering, and over 56.000 square feet of broken window panes.

When frightened residents returned to New York in the days and weeks after September 11, there was still a veil of polluting smog all over the borough. However, the indoor climate turned out to be even worse. Pollutant dust from the collapsed towers had settled in the furniture and infected the air systems. Instead of providing help and assistance, desperate residents and business people were told they had to wash on their own. A scrubbing brush and some soapy water was all that was needed, according to Christine Whittman, then director of the Directorate of Health.

This advice should prove to be in direct violation of US law, which states that only professional cleaning agencies with approved equipment should be used when removing asbestos dust. It would cost about 20.000 dollars or 140.000 Norwegian kroner per apartment to clean everything -

or "a few billion dollars," according to Nadler.

In that case, that is a small sum compared to the $ 440 billion Bush has so far spent on the War on Terror after September 11.

"Business as usual"

Sierra Club, one of America's most prominent

environmental organizations, claim that Bush was keen to reopen Wall Street and the stock exchange as quickly as possible, sending a signal to the rest of the world that it was "business as usual." Unfortunately, most of the victims were ordinary workers without advice to pay for medical treatment.

Concerned workers and residents were ordered back less than one week after the horrific Tuesday. Bush insisted that air quality was acceptable. So far, there is no indication that the White House will give up and pay the bill for neither medical treatment nor the bill after the necessary cleaning of apartments and offices. This could have an impact on the congressional elections on November 7.

- It is more important than ever that the Democrats come in the majority again. This will be our best starting point for a complete report in Congress with subsequent hearings, Nadler emphasizes.

The victims

Timothy Keller was among the first to arrive at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001. One year later, he had developed chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Authorities refused to help him with the ever-growing pile of hospital

bills. In June 2005, he died of a mysterious heart disease, and Keller's family is still struggling with debt after his treatment.

They have now organized themselves into the group "Unsung Heroes Helping Heroes". The network held its first conference in January.

Last week, current New York mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that New York would pay for Rudy Washington's health-

expenditure. Washington was one of the most pivotal in the September 11 rescue operation and has subsequently struggled with inhibiting asthma problems. Needles, however, are very critical that it took a first page look in the tabloid newspapers for the authorities to take action.

- There are thousands of heroic aid workers waiting to be reimbursed for medical treatment. These deserve all the help they can get. Someone has to take action. If not, I can not understand how the fight against terrorism can gain a hearing among the people of the United States.

By Henning André Søgaard, New York

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