2005_12_apdust.jpgSurprise, surprise, a government agency tasked to work on something September 11-related will not do what they set out to do but actually do something that's much less involving. A capsule history as gleaned from the NY Times: The EPA has spent the past four years mostly testing air and talking about what "contaminated" air really contains. There has been some cleaning, but not enough which provoked Senator Hillary Clinton to get the EPA to form a panel of experts that ended up recommending more aggressive sampling study that would have included lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, residential and commercial buildings. But then the panel couldn't agree with the government about what the benchmark for testing would be, so that sampling plan was 86'd. The Times doesn't sugarcoat the problem: "The revised plan represents the failure of a technical panel of scientists, local officials and community representatives to agree on the final details of the original, more comprehensive plan. After nearly two years of often rancorous debate and negotiation, the panel was stalled. More than four years have passed since the terrorist attack on the twin towers."

Now, the EPA won't sample at all but simply clean apartments south of Canal Street (screw you, SoHo!) - and only in Manhattan (fuhgeddaboutit, Brooklyn!) - with "unacceptable levels of contaminants." Which brings you to one of the early problems with earlier cleaning efforts: Say you live in a contaminated building; you get your apartment cleaned but your neighbor doesn't - your neighbor's dust could hypothetically recontaminate your apartment. The program is only open to residents whose apartments haven't been cleaned already, and Manhattan residents below Canal have two months to sign up. We haven't found out where you sign up, but here's the EPA's site about the World Trade Center dust.

The Village Voice had an article about a September 11 clean-up worker now sick from the dust. Here's the New York Communitee for Occupational Safety and Health's information about Ground Zero and Gotham Gazette conducted a live chat a while back about the "World Trade Center cough" with some physicians.