Among the victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks are workers who responded to the scene of the disaster and suffered severe – in some cases, fatal – health problems as a result. Those who showed up at the World Trade Center site for rescue, recovery, and cleanup operations were exposed to a range of toxic and mechanical hazards, as well as psychological trauma. Many of the estimated 40,000 workers have since developed respiratory, mental health, and other medical conditions.
Celeste and I asked freelance journalist Jori Lewis (whose reporting you might have heard on PRI’s The World) to create an in-depth case study for us about the occupational health and safety aspects of the WTC disaster: the multitude of hazards, the thousands of workers exposed, the response of regulatory authorities to address the hazards, how the risks were communicated (or not) and both the short- and long-term effects health consequences of exposure to those hazards.
If you’re concerned about the health of responders and cleanup workers at this and other disaster sites, this case study is a terrific reference. We’re sure it doesn’t cover everything our readers think is important about the occupational health and safety aspects of the World Trade Center response and recovery, though – so after you read the case study, feel free to leave comments below about additional information or angles you think ought to be recognized.