Air Today . . . Gone Tomorrow Article

Residents Cite Concerns
By Christopher Lawton and Joshua Robin, Newsday Staff Writers, February 24, 2002

    Alice Oviatt-Lawrence isn't a scientist. But since Sept. 11, she has become something of an air quality specialist - by breathing the fumes in her Battery Park City apartment.
    After the attacks, the architectural engineer left lower Manhattan for several months. "When I returned in January, I had a strange, four-day incident of pain on the right side of my face. Very strange - in my teeth," she said. A rash also started speckling her legs, she said.
    A doctor confirmed she had fiberglass poisoning. The rash has since disappeared, but she still has headaches. She also carries the suspicion that airborne hazards still linger.
    Yesterday, Oviatt-Lawrence joined several others who live or work near Ground Zero to speak - angrily - about their experiences since Sept. 11, in a panel sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency National Ombudsman.
    Janice Jones of East New York, whose daughter attends the High School for Leadership and Public Service, charged that the 15-year-old is being asked to attend classes in a school now laced with asbestos. "They ordered the kids back on Jan. 30, 2002," said Jones.
    The opening of the High School for Economics and Finance next door was delayed until next month, after soot containing traces of asbestos was found in the building, the Board of Education said.
    Officials have deemed the High School for Leadership to be safe. But Jones, head of the parents association, said "parents want another building."
    Shirley Rausher, who teaches English composition at Borough of Manhattan Community College, said the air in classrooms has been "incredibly horrible." "I had many students who couldn't attend classes and a number of others who dropped out," she said.
    Sgt. David Duffy, who works in the 25th Precinct uptown, said fellow sergeants who worked downtown after Sept. 11 have been sickened with respiratory ailments as serious as pneumonia. "It's as if we had a Love Canal right in downtown Manhattan," he said.

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