Sunday, January 08, 2006


One More Victim of the September 11 Attacks

Ground Zero hero, 34, dies

A young police detective who spent nearly 500 hours sifting through rubble at Ground Zero has died of a lung disease connected to his cleanup efforts, police union officials said yesterday. James Zadroga, 34, who died Thursday at his parents' New Jersey home, retired from the NYPD in July 2004 because of his deteriorating health. He is the first emergency worker to die from constant exposure to the Sept. 11 wreckage at the World Trade Center, said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association. [...] Zadroga was inside Building 7 at the World Trade Center when it began to collapse on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001. After narrowly escaping death, he spent nearly 500 hours over the next month and a half at the site, searching for victims amid tons of debris and dirt, Palladino said. [...] Zadroga became ill about a month after returning to the Manhattan South Precinct in late 2001. He died at his parents' home in Little Egg Harbor, N.J., of black lung disease and mercury on the brain, Palladino said.
Of course, we know that his illness couldn't really be related to the hours he spent at Ground Zero. Bush's EPA assured us that the site contained "low levels of asbestos and other potential contaminants" and that there was "no cause for concern by workers or the public". How many more people will die because "the White House Council on Environmental Quality 'convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones' from news releases"?
To answer the question, "How many?" one would have to have a second piece of information: "How soon?"

I think it's fair to say that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people will have their lives shortened due to exposure to everything from asbestos to dioxin. For most, the shortening may be only a few minutes. For some, the shortening may be months. For a few, the shortening may be years.

But the air in NYC and the region was extraordinarily heavily polluted for days. Everyone near there was exposed.
Just as with what's currently happening in Iraq, those of us in the reality-based community had predicted that tragedies like this would happen. In this case, thousands of people like this brave man were sent in without special gear to work on a rubble pile that Giuliani knew full well was loaded with toxins. And let's not even go into the people living nearby, who had to breathe all that in for months afterward. (Including, ironically enough, Bernie Kerik, some of whose trysts with Judith Regan took place in a building overlooking Ground Zero.)
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