firefighters, police and others who spent months at Ground Zero
searching for bodies weren't the only ones exposed to unusual
pollutants in the air. (AP)
of the estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people who volunteered or worked at
Ground Zero in the aftermath of Sept. 11 have reported developing
health problems that were still present two years later.
and workers in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn sued the Environmental
Protection Agency on Wednesday, saying the agency improperly let
thousands of people return to their homes and businesses after the
World Trade Center collapsed.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan accused the
agency of making misleading statements about air quality after the
Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, said the EPA left
people "unnecessarily exposed to potentially hazardous levels of
asbestos and possibly other carcinogens and toxic substances."
It accused the agency and its leaders, including former EPA
Administrator Christie Whitman, of "a shockingly deliberate
indifference to human health."
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and reimbursement for cleanup
and asks the court to order a fund be set up to finance medical
monitoring for conditions resulting from exposure to trade center dust.
The agency, in a statement, said it had not seen the lawsuit and
could not comment directly on it, but defended its staff's "remarkable
feats" after the attacks - including the monitoring and sampling of
air, dust, and river and drinking water.
The EPA also said it provided thousands of respirators for response
workers, conducted studies of indoor cleaning methods, and cleaned and
tested thousands of homes in lower Manhattan.