Air Today . . . Gone Tomorrow Article

WTC Dust Advice Is Slammed
By Paul H. B. Shin, Newsday, February 24, 2002

    A federal environmental investigator and the congressman whose district includes Ground Zero blasted federal and local officials yesterday for giving New Yorkers what they called dangerous advice on cleaning up their homes after Sept. 11.
    The city Health Department's instructions recommending the use of a wet mop or rag to clean up Ground Zero dust "is not only reckless and irresponsible, but illegal advice," insisted Rep. Jerrold Nadler (news) (D-Manhattan). "The city and federal government are in violation of the law and are playing dice with the lives of downtown residents," he added.
    The charges were made at a lower Manhattan hearing, the first of several, investigating whether the Environmental Protection Agency (news - web sites) responded appropriately to widespread health concerns — especially about asbestos — in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks.
    David Harvey, an executive of Trade Winds Environmental, which has cleaned 3 million square feet of commercial space and 150,000 square feet of residential space near Ground Zero, said residents shouldn't clean up their homes themselves. "If you see visible dust," Harvey said, "I would call in a company to do proper environmental cleaning."
    Top officials of the EPA and other agencies were invited to the hearing, but failed to show. "This is the first time in the history of ombudsman hearings ... that all levels of government have stonewalled," said Hugh Kaufman, chief investigator for EPA Ombudsman Robert Martin, who was present but didn't speak.
    About 70 area residents, many of whom said they suffer from persistent health problems, applauded several times as experts, including companies that cleaned private space around Ground Zero, criticized the EPA and city agencies for declaring the area safe.
    The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. announced on Thursday it is considering establishing a standard to determine when air in apartments is safe.

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