Stateside

Remember the workers

A blog published by the US labor federation AFL-CIO reminds us of the hundreds of workers (especially police and firefighters) who lost their lives and the thousands of others who risked their lives in the effort to help the victims of the horrific attacks five years ago today.

Many of the latter are suffering the effects of breathing toxic air, especially at the World Trade Center site. The response of the Bush administration– for which workers’ rights and protections were never a priority– has been predictably disgraceful.

Immediately after the attacks, then-Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christine Todd Whitman assured the public the site was safe. Newsday reported the Bush administration gave Whitman the right to bury embarrassing EPA documents about the chemicals and other hazards by classifying them as secret.

Whitman’s comments were consistent with a systematic effort by the Bush administration to undercut the efforts of experienced health administrators in New York and at [the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health], according to public health historians David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, whose comments are posted by Jordan Barab at Confined Space:

By pressing them to return the city to “normal” and feeding them doctored information about dust levels—ignoring scientific uncertainties about the dangers that lingered in the air—the administration lied to support a national policy of denial.

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