Air Today . . . Gone Tomorrow Article

EPA Appoints Expert Technical Review Panel to Study Health Effects of 9/11
NYCOSH Update on Safety and Health, March 16, 2004

On March 1 the Environmental Protection Agency bowed to pressure from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, backed by organizations of residents and workers, and appointed a technical review panel that will advise the agency on the adequacy of its actions to clean up Lower Manhattan and recommend programs to protect the health of those who live or work in the area.

The 17-member panel will not have the authority to give EPA directions, but all of the panel members' recommendations to EPA will be made public, with the expectation that EPA will need to respond to public concerns and provide persuasive explanations for not accepting any of the panel's recommendations.

The panel includes at least three experts who have a history of working with unions and other workers' organizations. One is NYCOSH industrial hygienist Dave Newman, who is director of NYCOSH's World Trade Center Project. Another is Dr. Steven Markowitz, executive director of the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems at Queens College. The third is Jeanne Stellman, PhD, professor of public health at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Markowitz and Stellman have each been the recipient of an award from NYCOSH for his or her committed efforts to promote occupational safety and health.

All of the panel's meetings will be open to the public, and each meeting will include a period of time for public discussion. "NYCOSH is going to encourage unions and workers who have been affected by 9/11 to attend the meetings and to make their members' interests known to the panel," said NYCOSH Executive Director Joel Shufro.

In addition to naming the panel, EPA announced that it would retest one-fifth of the apartments that had previously been declared clean.

The chair of the advisory panel is Paul Gilman, EPA Science Advisor and Assistant Administrator for Research and Development. The panel was set up at the initiative of Senator Clinton in response to the August 2003 release of a report by the EPA Inspector General, which concluded that the Lower Manhattan cleanup was inadequate.

Immediately after the release of the IG's report, EPA officials rejected its conclusions. "We stand by the job we managed in testing and cleaning up people's apartments," said acting EPA Administrator Marianne Horinko. But Sen. Clinton said that the EPA's response was not acceptable. "I pushed the White House to respond to concerns about indoor air quality in New York raised in the Inspector General report," said the senator..

The scope of the expert panel's work is still being defined. According to EPA, at least one of its responsibilities will be to "characterize any remaining exposures and risks, identify unmet public health needs, and recommend any steps to further minimize the risks associated with the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks."

First meeting of the EPA's World Trade Center Technical Review Panel will take place on March 31, 9am - 5pm. Check-in and registration begins at 9:00; the meeting begins at 10:00 at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, Lower Level Auditorium, 1 Bowling Green (between State Street & Broadway at Battery Place). Handicap accessible. The public is invited to watch the entire meeting and to participate for a period of time close to the end. Participants may register in advance at or by calling (781) 674-7374.


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