After 9/11, No Safety Measures at Stuyvesant H.S. Led to Sickness & Death

this week marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and we’re spending the hour looking at the massive environmental and public health crisis that followed at ground zero in New York and how politicians, from the president to the EPA head, Christine Todd Whitman — the president, of course, Bush — prioritized Wall Street’s interests in the aftermath.

Another person who knows this story so well is joining us now: Lila Nordstrom. She was a student at Stuyvesant High School in 2001, which is right next to the World Trade Center towers that collapsed. In the new documentary 9/11’s Unsettled Dust, she explains how the school quickly reopened despite health concerns. She also tells the story in her new book, just out, Some Kids Left Behind: A Survivor’s Fight for Health Care in the Wake of 9/11. She’s executive director of StuyHealth.

Lila, welcome to Democracy Now! Still with us, Lisa Katzman, the director of the film. For people to understand what happened at your school during — after the attack and how the

— source democracynow.org | Sep 07, 2021

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9/11 Responder Son Died from Exposure to Ground Zero as Officials Denied Connection

My son Jimmy, who was an NYPD detective, he was actually sick as soon as he got home. Three months after the event, I said to him, “You know, let’s go to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and go talk to, you know, the pulmonologist, the head pulmonologist in Columbia Presbyterian.” And I took him. We went to the hospital. The doctor sat with him for an hour or so and examined him and told us to come back in two weeks.

Well, when we came back in two weeks, the doctor brought us into his office, with nice cushioned chairs and everything, and sat us down and just said to Jimmy, “I’m not going to treat you.” And we were shocked. And we said, “What do you mean, you’re not going to treat him?” He said, “No, I’m not going to treat him.” And he got up and walked out. And, you know, we were a little dumbfounded. And we looked at each other. We couldn’t understand why this doctor wouldn’t treat him. And as we were going down the elevator I said to Jimmy, I said, “Jimmy, this is going to be a long process.” I said, “And to tell you the truth, you’re screwed. They’re not going to take care of you.”

You know, the

— source democracynow.org | Sep 07, 2021

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Bush’s EPA Hid Health Risks from Toxic Dust at Ground Zero & Thousands Died

this week marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., that killed nearly 3,000 people. We’ll never know exactly how many people, because those who go uncounted in life go uncounted in death, perhaps the undocumented workers around the area.

But we begin our coverage looking at the impact of the toxic, cancer-causing smoke and dust that hung over ground zero in Manhattan as the fire burned for 100 more days. At the time, the Environmental Protection Agency told people who worked at the site and lived and went to school near it that the air was safe to breathe. In the years that followed, more than 13,200 first responders and survivors have been diagnosed with a variety of cancers and chronic respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses. At least — well, close to 1,900 first responders, survivors and workers who recovered bodies and cleaned up the wreckage have since died from illnesses, many of them linked to their time at ground zero.

For the whole hour, we’re looking at an enraging new documentary that exposes the massive environmental and public health crisis caused by the 9/11 attack and how politicians and the EPA head, Christine Todd Whitman, the former governor of New Jersey, put Wall Street’s interests before public health in the aftermath. It also shows how 9/11 responders and survivors had to fight for healthcare justice while they were sick and dying, going to Washington scores of times, in wheelchairs, on crutches, with oxygen. Yes, tons of toxic

— source democracynow.org | Sep 07, 2021

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The tiniest bit of air pollution makes COVID-19 more deadly

Dirty air in the United States is linked to higher death rates from COVID-19, according to a new study from researchers at Harvard’s school of public health. Scientists found that people who lived in counties in with elevated levels of fine particulate matter known as PM 2.5 in the air were more likely to die from the virus.

PM 2.5 is one of the world’s most dangerous invisible pollutants. It’s made up of tiny particles (smaller than 2.5 micrometers across) that can seep into human lungs and bloodstreams. It comes from automobile exhaust and dirty power plants, as well as from burning wood and coal. Many studies have linked high levels of PM 2.5 to heart disease, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, and other respiratory illnesses. Researchers have estimated that PM 2.5 contributed to 4.2 million deaths worldwide in 2015 alone.

According to the Harvard analysis, which has yet to be peer reviewed, just a small increase in long-term levels of PM 2.5 — even one microgram per cubic meter of air — could increase COVID-19 death rates by 15

— source grist.org | Shannon Osaka | Apr 9, 2020

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Is your sunscreen killing the sea?

Sunscreen is essential to protect skin against cancer, and with many pandemic-related travel restrictions around the world starting to lift, sales are expected to rocket. Estimates vary about how much sunscreen makes it into our oceans each year. Researchers estimated that 20,000 tonnes is washed off tourists every year in the northern Mediterranean alone. between 6,000 and 14,000 tonnes are released annually in coral reef areas each year. The focus has been on two chemicals, the ultraviolet filters oxybenzone and octinoxate, though there are other troubling ingredients. Hawaii banned those UV filters from January this year, and in 2018 Palau announced broader restrictions on sunscreens containing a number of chemicals. Other regions have similar bans.

— source theguardian.com | 6 Aug 2021

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Lawyer Who Sued Chevron over Amazon Oil Spills, Marks 2 Years Under House Arrest

Protests across the United States are calling for the immediate release of environmental and human rights lawyer Steven Donziger, who has been held under house arrest in New York for two years after being targeted by the oil giant Chevron. Donziger sued the oil giant in Ecuador on behalf of 30,000 Amazonian Indigenous people for dumping 16 billion gallons of oil into their ancestral lands. Ecuador’s Supreme Court ordered Chevron to pay $18 billion a decade ago, a major victory for the environment and corporate accountability. But Chevron refused to pay or clean up the land, and instead launched a legal attack targeting Donziger in the United States. A federal judge in July found Donziger guilty of six counts of criminal contempt of court after he refused to turn over his computer and cellphone. In an unusual legal twist, the judge appointed a private law firm with ties to Chevron to prosecute Donziger, after federal prosecutors declined to bring charges. “This is a broader threat to our society,” says Donziger. “We cannot allow in any rule-of-law country, or any country, private prosecutions run by corporations.”

You know, it wasn’t a trial as trials are commonly understood. There was no jury. The judge, who had already locked me up pretrial — I’m the only lawyer in American history ever locked up pretrial on a misdemeanor. I want to emphasize: This is a misdemeanor case, a petty crime case. And I assert my innocence, but even if I were guilty, it’s a very minor case. No one’s ever been locked up pretrial but me. So the same judge who locked me up now for two years — I haven’t, you know, been sentenced to anything — is the judge who denied me a jury and alone decided my supposed guilt or innocence.

It was intended, really, to be sort of a show trial, where a decision that had previously been made by the Chevron prosecutor — the judge, Judge Preska, allowed a private law firm, Seward & Kissel, which has Chevron as a client, to prosecute me, after the government refused to prosecute me. It was all just precooked. And you kind of felt it watching it in the courtroom. During the trial, Judge Preska was reading the newspaper during witness testimony. All the main witnesses were Chevron lawyers. They testified that Chevron

— source democracynow.org | Aug 06, 2021

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The health impacts of wildfire smoke

Articles on U.S. wildfires don’t often show a photo of someone gasping in a hospital bed or felled by a heart attack. Yet an increasing body of evidence suggests that the biggest societal impacts of increasing wildland fire are happening in our own bodies, the result of tiny particulates spewed in vast amounts.

Millions of people across the western U.S. coughed and hacked their way through the summer and autumn of 2020, when some of the region’s worst fires on record ripped across the landscape. It’s too soon to know the full range of health consequences from that summer’s blazes, but there’s already evidence now in peer review that more than 100 deaths may be attributable to 2020’s late-summer smoke in Washington state alone. If another early estimate is on target, the smoke may have contributed to between 1,200 and 3,000 premature deaths in California among people 65 and older.

Research on wildfire smoke and health is advancing hand in hand with the threat itself. The western fires of 2020 came soon after several disastrously hot, fiery years in California, which spawned a grim bumper crop of case studies. Meanwhile, an expanding array of satellite imagery is helping pinpoint where and

— source yaleclimateconnections.org | Bob Henson | May 10, 2021

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“Smoke waves” from wildfires are getting worse

Shrouded by smoke from a fire in California’s parched San Bernardino Mountains, schools in the Victor Valley closed their doors earlier this month. The Pilot Fire was contained on Monday — shortly before the Blue Cut Fire broke out, billowing soot and ash over the valley afresh, forcing further closures. Researchers have taken to using the term “smoke wave” to describe the type of multiday impacts from wildfire pollution that were experienced this month in the Victor Valley. The valley contains hundreds of thousands of residents as well as the thoroughfare linking Las Vegas with Los Angeles.

scientists from Yale and Harvard calculated that 82 million residents of the West will experience smoke waves that are two days or longer during a six-year period beginning in the late 2040s. That’s a 44 percent increase from a six-year period last decade.

— source grist.org | 2016

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64% of global agricultural land at risk of pesticide pollution

The study, published in Nature Geoscience, produced a global model mapping pollution risk caused by 92 chemicals commonly used in agricultural pesticides in 168 countries. The study examined risk to soil, the atmosphere, and surface and ground water.

The map also revealed Asia houses the largest land areas at high risk of pollution, with China, Japan, Malaysia, and the Philippines at highest risk. Some of these areas are considered “food bowl” nations, feeding a large portion of the world’s population.

64 percent of the world’s arable land is at risk of pesticide pollution. Pesticides can be transported to surface waters and groundwater through runoff and infiltration, polluting water bodies, thereby reducing the usability of water resources.

— source University of Sydney | Mar 30, 2021

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New Leak at Hanford Nuclear Waste Site is ‘Catastrophic’

A leak at the Hanford nuclear site in Washington state has prompted warnings of “catastrophic” consequences, as workers attempt to clean up more than eight inches of toxic waste from one of 28 underground tanks holding radioactive materials leftover from plutonium production. Alarms on the site began sounding on Sunday, leading workers to discover 8.4 inches of toxic waste in between the inner and outer walls of tank AY-102, which has been slowly leaking since 2011 but has never accumulated that amount of waste before. In 2012 and 2013, leaks were reported at seven of Hanford’s 177 tanks, 149 of which are single-shelled.

— source commondreams.org | 2016

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