Environmental Detective Work

January 12th, 2004

To the Editor,

The necessary detective work to uncover links between environment and illness is rarely performed in a comprehensive manner. Our bureaucracy resists the liability incurred from such proofs. This was all too apparent in the premature declarations of “safety” by EPA after the WTC tragedy and a year long delay in the offering of HAZMAT approved cleanup of residences affected by dusts.

Epidemiological inquiry in the current case must be broadenedto look at additional ailments commonly associated with pollutants: autoimmune diseases such as lupus, Parkinson’s and MS; late onset of allergies and food intolerances; eczema and other dermatological disorders; chronic bronchitis; migraines; neurological signs such as disturbances of short term memory, balance, coordination etc. Many signs of environmentally induced cancers are preceded with inflammatory processes earlier on, seen in lesser, chronic complaints.

The unions involved should hire an independent toxicologist from a reputable out of state laboratory, to test the building. Agencies such as the Dept. of Health and the DEC do not test for many relevant compounds and have a vested interest in “null” findings. There will also be no conflict of interest if the indendent laboratory is not required to look to NYS for its recertification, should findings not be to the liking of our authorities. Local agencies can always be asked to replicate independent tests.

One common culprit is old pesticide and termaticide treatments. Older buildings may have a chlordane legacy, upon which additional layers of organophosphates have been applied monthly. These include Dursban, Diazanon and Malathion. All have recently been cancelled for indoor use but are permitted to be applied anyway from old stocks. Other culprits can be paints (which also contain fungicides) and varnishes, formaldehyde emitted by furnishings and carpets etc.

These important city employees deserve the best, as we learned when they were sent into “battle” without adequate safety equipment on a terror filled September morning…

Barbara Rubin

Categories: NY Post

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