Disaster News Network Print This
 

Post-9/11 screenings increase

The last two weeks have been busy for Sept. 11 recovery workers, lower Manhattan residents, and organizations doing health screenings.

BY HEATHER MOYER | NEW YORK | March 29, 2004


"I think what's most important should be an acknowledgement from the Environmental Protection Agency that its research on Ground Zero air quality was faulty from the beginning."

—Florence Coppola


The last two weeks have been busy for Sept. 11 recovery workers, lower Manhattan residents, and the organizations doing their health screenings.

Early last week, the Department Health and Human Services (DHHS) awarded $81 million in grants to organizations helping Sept. 11 rescue workers determine if the air they breathed around Ground Zero was toxic.

Today, a bill will be introduced in Congress that could help residents and office workers in Manhattan undergo health screenings in relation to the Ground Zero air quality. The bill would also make funds available for medicines and treatments.

And this Wednesday is the first meeting of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) new panel on cleaning apartments around Ground Zero.

The eight grants will go toward a five-year health-screening plan of those Ground Zero rescue and recovery workers. The DHHS awarded the grants to the New York City Fire Department, Long Island Occupational and Environmental Health Center, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, City University of New York's, Queens College, and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey's Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Diane Stein, Director of Outreach and Education for Mt. Sinai's World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program, said this new grant allows them to continue their screening work. After Sept. 11, she said, many local relief workers showed up at Mt. Sinai's occupational health clinic because of health issues.

"The clinic realized right away that only four doctors were not enough," said Stein. "They were going to need more help with the screenings, so they applied for this funding."

Florence Coppola, executive of the United Church of Christ's (UCC) National Disaster Ministries, said the UCC, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine have been working together since 9-11 on the technological disaster of Ground Zero air quality. They set up a registry of screened workers. Coppola added that Mt. Sinai had an initial grant for screening but it wasn't enough money for any medicine or treatments for the workers.

"We realized that the feds wouldn't fund treatment, and we knew we couldn't leave it like that," said Stein. "So we sought out private funding."

According to Coppola, the UCC 'Hope from the Rubble' campaign gave Mt. Sinai $100,000 to help with the medications and treatment.

Coppola's reactions to the grant news are mixed. "I'm glad to hear that there is this additional funding to help," she said. "But I think what's most important should be an acknowledgement from the Environmental Protection Agency that its research on Ground Zero air quality was faulty from the beginning."

Joel Shufro, executive director of the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) also sees problems with this new plan. "We think these grants are great but it pays only for screenings," he said. "This does not pay for medicine or treatment, and there is still a whole group of people not covered by these screenings: residents."

Mt. Sinai's Stein agrees with Shufro and Coppola. "The details of the grant aren't entirely worked out yet," she said. "But it does leave out residents and does not include treatments, which is unfortunate."

The new Congressional bill being introduced Monday focuses on those issues. Rep. Carolyn Mahoney of Manhattan and Connecticut Rep. Christopher Shays cosponsored it.

"The bill would be great," said Stein. "We're supportive of it because it makes sense our director is out there now at a press conference rallying for it."

The coalition of NYCOSH, UCC, and Mt. Sinai also challenged the EPA on its early statements that the air around Ground Zero was safe and on its methods of cleaning homes and offices in the area.

"People didn't know how to clean their offices and residences properly," said Coppola. She said people weren't equipped to remove the toxic dust on their own. The panel meeting Wednesday formed in response to that criticism.

The pressure is on that panel to determine new testing and cleaning procedures for the residences in lower Manhattan.


Related Topics:

Motorcycle riders honor Flight 93

NJ interfaith group closes doors

Observing 9/11 by doing good deeds


More links on September 11 2001

Find this article at:

http://www.disasternews.net/news/article.php?articleid=1709

Advertisers:

DNN Sponsors include:

Advertisements: