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Re: [ufodiscussion] Death By Dust

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  • Regan Power
    The timing of this story is synchronistic for me, since I attended a meeting of the 9/11 Truth Campaign in Torquay, England last night, at which the guest
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 30, 2006
      The timing of this story is synchronistic for me, since I attended a
      meeting of the 9/11 Truth Campaign in Torquay, England last night, at which
      the guest speaker was William (Willi) Rodriguez, the celebrated "Last Man
      Out" of the WTC on that fateful day. A brief account of the meeting was
      given in the local Western Morning News and is reproduced below.

      The article states:
      "He believes a bomb went off in the basement of the north tower moments
      before the first plane hit the building. And he says his evidence regarding
      this event was covered up during the (9/11 Commission) investigation.

      Mr. Rodriguez alleges intelligence services decided not to act to stop the
      attacks, to provide the US Government with a motive for invading Iraq.

      'I believe 9/11 was sponsored government terrorism,' he said."

      The article omits to mention that Willi is now campaigning for the
      creation of an international Truth Commission to conduct an objective and
      impartial (i.e. honest) investigation the 9/11 attacks - something which has
      proven unobtainable in the USA. He has already received support for this
      idea from a number of national governments, although notably not from the
      British Government however.

      Naturally Willi got buried in dust when one of the towers collapsed
      on top of him. However, he still seemed as strong as an ox when I met him
      last night - perhaps another of the many miracles which he believes happened
      to him on that day and subsequently.

      Regan

      ____________________________________________________
      Western Morning News – Thurs 30th Nov 2006

      Last Man Out of twin towers speaks of his anger after terrorist attack

      9/11 hero brings his grim story to region

      Interview and Report by Louise Vennells

      The last man out of one of New York’s twin towers before it collapsed has
      told a Westcountry audience of his harrowing experiences as he rescued
      scores of people from the building.

      Maintenance man William Rodriguez entered the north tower of the World Trade
      Centre three times after planes struck on September 11, to try to save his
      friends who worked in the restaurant on the top floor.

      “It was like a scene from The Towering Inferno,” he said. “Pieces of rock
      were falling all over us.”

      He described scenes of horrific carnage, with office workers trapped in
      lifts and throwing themselves out of windows. And he told how one woman was
      cut in two by a falling pane of glass after he helped her escape.

      Mr. Rodriguez, originally from Puerto Rico, never reached the workers he
      intended to help, but he thinks he saved more than 100 others as he unlocked
      doors between corridors using his master key.

      The building collapsed as Mr. Rodriguez made a final attempt to find his
      friends. He only survived by hurling himself under a fire engine. Rescue
      workers dug him out of the rubble.

      Mr. Rodriguez was hailed as a hero by the city of New York and the bush
      administration, and he has helped set up a range of family support groups
      since the terrorist atrocity.

      He campaigned for an investigation into what happened, and claims he put his
      trust in the 9/11 Commission which was set up to fulfil the role. But he has
      branded its findings a “whitewash”, and is dedicated to challenging the
      accepted version of events.

      He is touring the world with his story, and spoke to an audience in Torquay’s
      Riviera International Centre last night.

      He believes a bomb went off in the basement of the north tower moments
      before the first plane hit the building. And he says his evidence regarding
      this event was covered up during the investigation.

      Mr. Rodriguez alleges intelligence services decided not to act to stop the
      attacks, to provide the US Government with a motive for invading Iraq.

      “I believe 9/11 was sponsored government terrorism,” he said.

      Read William Rodriguez’s full story in Saturday’s Western Morning News

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Light Eye
      To: GS5555@... ; ufodiscussion@yahoogroups.com ;
      changingplanetchat@yahoogroups.com ; astrosciences@yahoogroups.com ;
      giuliano.marinkovic@... ; wayfarer9@... ;
      parascience@...
      Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 8:00 PM
      Subject: [ufodiscussion] Death By Dust


      Dear Friends,

      Click the link if you don't receive the images or can't access the links.

      http://villagevoice.com/news/0648%2Clombardi%2C75156%2C2.html

      Love and Light.

      David

      Death by Dust
      The frightening link between the 9-11 toxic cloud and cancer
      by Kristen Lombardi
      November 28th, 2006 5:22 PM


      To date, 75 recovery workers at ground zero have been diagnosed with blood
      cell cancers that a half-dozen top doctors and epidemiologists have
      confirmed as having been likely caused by that exposure. Ernie Vallabuona is
      one of them.
      photo: Scott McDermott


      See also:
      Believe 9-11 is causing cancer?
      An open thread in Power Plays It was October 6, 2004, three years after
      Ernie Vallebuona's three-month stint as a rescue and recovery worker at
      ground zero in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and he was hunched
      over and trembling, racked by a pain like nothing he had experienced in his
      40 years of sound health. He had just returned to his Rockland County home
      after finishing the midnight-to-8 a.m. shift in the NYPD vice unit, where
      he'd reported to work for the last six years. Vallebuona had bought some
      fish from a street vendor near his office, on the Lower East Side. And as he
      drove the 35 miles from Manhattan to New City, he chalked up a searing
      stomachache to food poisoning. Maybe the vendor had filleted that fish with
      a dirty machete? By the time he pulled into his driveway, the pain had grown
      excruciating, too horrible for him to even lie in bed that day. The chills
      swept over his body; so did the shakes. He called his doctor, who suggested
      ulcer medication.
      His mother advised him to forget that diagnosis and consult a specialist
      instead, but like a lot of young, healthy men, he didn't listen right away.
      Vallebuona isn't much for complaining; what ailing cop is? But for six
      months, he had noticed his body betraying him. His toes had reddened; his
      joints had stiffened. They throbbed in prickly pangs, as if glass shards
      were wedged underneath his skin. When his own heartbeat began to hurt, he
      had visited the family doctor, who diagnosed him with gout. He was told to
      drink cherry juice and take anti-inflammatory medicine. Neither worked. Now
      as his stomach convulsed, Vallebuona listened to his mother at last. Later
      that day, he found himself at a gastroenterologist's office in Pomona, lying
      on a table, watching a nurse poke at his abdomen. She felt a lump and
      ordered tests. It would take a month to reach a definitive diagnosis of
      non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphoid tissue. Evidently,
      Vallebuona had developed a
      golf-ball-sized mass in his abdomen that had grown so fast and so quick that
      pieces of it were dying and depositing into his blood, causing gout-like
      symptoms. One week after that, he was at a Manhattan hospital, meeting his
      oncologist, hearing about the heavy-duty chemotherapy he would have to
      undergo over the next four months. At the visit, a nurse explained he had an
      aggressive cancer—a rare stage-three—and asked a battery of questions. Did
      he ever do modeling with glue?
      Did he ever handle insecticides?
      Did he ever work with chemicals like benzene? Vallebuona answered no to all
      the questions. He had led a clean life; before becoming a cop, he'd worked
      in a bank. Sitting in the examining room with him, Vallebuona's wife, Amy,
      finally spoke up. "What about 9-11?" she asked. "What about all that smoke
      and dust?" Only then did Ernie Vallebuona first consider the possibility
      that the events of September 11 could be the cause of his cancer.
      ---------------------------------
      This is not the story of rescue and recovery workers at ground zero getting
      sick with respiratory illnesses from their exposure; you have read those
      stories, and you have heard those cases. This is the story of 9-11 and
      cancer. To date, 75 recovery workers on or around what is now known as "the
      Pile"—the rubble that remained after the World Trade Center towers collapsed
      on the morning of September 11, 2001—have been diagnosed with blood cell
      cancers that a half-dozen top doctors and epidemiologists have confirmed as
      having been likely caused by that exposure. Those 75 cases have come to
      light in joint-action lawsuits filed against New York City on behalf of at
      least 8,500 recovery workers who suffer from various forms of lung illnesses
      and respiratory diseases—and suggest a pattern too distinct to ignore. While
      some cancers take years, if not decades, to develop, the blood cancers in
      otherwise healthy and young individuals represent a pattern that experts
      believe
      will likely prove to be more than circumstantial. The suits seek to prove
      that these 8,500 workers—approximately 20 percent of the total estimated
      recovery force that cleared the rubble from ground zero—all suffer from the
      debilitating effects of those events. The basis for the suits stems from the
      plaintiffs' argument that the government—in a desperate attempt to revive
      downtown in the wake of the catastrophic events on 9-11—failed to protect
      workers from cancer-causing benzene, dioxin, and other hazardous chemicals
      that permeated the air for months. Officials made these failures worse by
      falsely reassuring New Yorkers that they faced no long-term dangers from
      exposure to the air lingering over ground zero. "We are very encouraged that
      the results from our monitoring of air-quality and drinking-water conditions
      in both New York and near the Pentagon show that the public in these areas
      is not being exposed to excessive levels of asbestos or other harmful
      substances,"
      Christine Todd Whitman, the then administrator of the EPA, told the citizens
      of New York City in a press release on September 18—only seven days after
      the attacks. "Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to
      reassure the people of New York . . . that their air is safe to breathe and
      the water is safe to drink." Those statements were not only false and
      misleading, but may even play into the basis for the city's liability for
      millions of dollars in the recovery workers' lawsuits. Last February, U.S.
      District Judge Deborah Batts cited Whitman's false statements as the basis
      for allowing a different class-action lawsuit to proceed—this one, against
      the EPA and Whitman, is on behalf of residents, office workers, and students
      from Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, many of whom suffer from respiratory
      illnesses as a result of 9-11. "No reasonable person would have thought that
      telling thousands of people that it was safe to return to Lower Manhattan,
      while
      knowing that such return could pose long-term health risks and other dire
      consequences, was conduct sanctioned by our laws," Batts wrote in her
      February 2 ruling. "Whitman's deliberate and misleading statements made to
      the press, where she reassured the public that the air was safe to breathe
      around Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, and that there would be no health risk
      presented to those returning to the areas, shocks the conscience." And that
      was before anyone knew of the apparent cancer link, first reported in the
      New York news media in the spring of 2004. Even more shocking is the
      incidence of cancer and other life-threatening illnesses that have developed
      among those participating in the recovery workers' lawsuits. Given the fact
      that some cancers are slower to develop than others, it seems likely to
      several doctors and epidemiologists that many more reports of cancer and
      serious lung illnesses will surface in the months and years to come. The
      fact that 8,500 recovery
      workers have already banded together to sue, only five years later—with 400
      total cancer patients among their number—leads many experts to predict that
      these figures are likely to grow, meaning a possible death toll in the
      thousands. In many ways, these illnesses suggest the slow but deteriorating
      health issues that faced the atomic-bomb survivors of Hiroshima and
      Nagasaki, where thousands died in the years and decades that followed the
      United States' use of nuclear weapons. And that similarity has not been lost
      on David Worby, the 53-year-old attorney leading the joint-action suits on
      behalf of those workers who are already sick, and even dying. "In the end,"
      Worby declares, "our officials might be responsible for more deaths than
      Osama bin Laden on 9-11."
      ---------------------------------
      In the five years since the attacks, much of the focus on the 9-11 health
      crisis has missed a broader question, the one that every ground zero worker
      fears most and the one that Ernie Vallebuona has already had to ponder: What
      about cancer? What if all that pulverized concrete and ground glass and
      caustic mist that Vallebuona inhaled while on the Pile didn't attack his
      lungs but instead went straight for his lymph nodes? Could this noxious mix
      have caused his lymphoma? No one has done a comprehensive study of the
      health consequences on the estimated 40,000 rescue and recovery workers who
      raced to ground zero after the attacks. A study by Mount Sinai Medical
      Center—one that received widespread media attention two months ago—released
      statistics on the five-year anniversary of 9-11 that focused almost
      exclusively on respiratory problems and bypassed any mention of cancer
      today. But David Worby has tracked the cancer patients among his growing
      client base for the last
      two years. Here are the latest tallies: Of the 8,500 people now suing the
      city, 400, or about 5 percent, have cancer. The biggest group by far
      consists of people like Vallebuona, who have blood cell cancers.
      Seventy-five clients suffer from lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, and
      other blood cell cancers; most are men, aged 30 to 60, who appeared in
      perfect health just five years ago. The field of cancer research is not
      known for consensus. But six prominent specialists on cancer and the link to
      toxins—on the faculty of the nation's top medical schools and public health
      institutions—all come to the same conclusions when told these statistics.
      They are Richard Clapp and David Ozonoff, professors of environmental health
      at Boston University School of Public Health; Michael Thun, director of
      epidemiological research at the American Cancer Society; Francine Laden,
      assistant professor of environmental epidemiology at Harvard School of
      Public Health; Jonathan Samet, chairman
      of the epidemiology department at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public
      Health; and Charles Hesdorffer, associate professor of oncology at Johns
      Hopkins School of Medicine. These doctors and epidemiologists agree that the
      incidence of cancer among this subset of workers sounds shockingly high,
      that they cannot and should not be dismissed as coincidence, and that the
      toxic dust cloud that hung over downtown Manhattan, and particularly the
      Pile, likely caused or promoted the diseases. Some even went so far as to
      say that the blood cancer cases, especially, indicate what could become a
      wave of cancer cases stemming from 9-11 over the next decades. "Those
      numbers seem quite outrageous," is how Hesdorffer puts it. Now at Johns
      Hopkins, Hesdorffer directed until last year the tumor immunotherapy program
      at Columbia University Medical Center, where he treated two recovery workers
      who got cancer post–9-11. He notes that the average healthy adult person has
      a 20 percent risk
      of having cancer over a lifetime. Calculate that risk over five years—the
      time frame from the events of 9-11 until today—and it drops to about 1
      percent. Yet 5 percent of the suits' workers—1 percent of the overall worker
      population—have already been diagnosed with malignancies. And these patients
      don't include the thousands whose illnesses have yet to be recorded because
      they aren't participating in the lawsuits or in the World Trade Center
      medical-monitoring programs. What the experts find most telling are the
      types of cancer now emerging. They say the blood cancer cases seem too
      disproportionate to be random. Two percent of these workers have been
      diagnosed with what amounts to related diseases, none of which fall into the
      "high-frequency" category, which includes prostate cancer. One out of 9,000
      people nationwide gets lymphoma a year; for myeloma, it's one out of 30,000.
      By contrast, the 75 blood cancer patients translate into several dozen new
      cases a year.
      "That's not just a fluke," says Ozonoff, who studies cancer clusters and
      toxic waste sites. Samet, a worldwide expert on smoking and cancer, notes
      that when so many cases of related cancers emerge, it can signal a forming
      cluster. "It sounds like an impressive cluster of cancer cases, and I would
      want to study it," he says. To be sure, the experts advise caution until
      more evidence is collected. They acknowledge that the data needed to draw a
      definite link between 9-11 and cancer don't exist. None of the cancers
      emerging now are the kinds that come only from toxic exposures—like, say,
      asbestosis, which is caused by asbestos and can take two decades to grow.
      This sentinel cancer would go a long way toward proving a 9-11 connection.
      Absent that, scientists would want to determine whether a higher proportion
      of cancer patients exists among the workers than in the general public. But
      because there are no independent data on the 40,000-strong group, they can't
      make this
      calculation yet. Meanwhile, the latency periods for most cancers from the
      time of a full-blown carcinogenic exposure to a full-blown malignancy can
      take years, if not decades. Says Thun, of the American Cancer Society: "It
      is the exception rather than the rule to have cancers develop this quickly."
      ---------------------------------
      Despite the lack of definitive data, we may still be in the midst of a
      cancer epidemic. Indeed, according to these experts, traditional data don't
      help much here because 9-11 represents such a singular exposure. No one can
      deny that the workers were exposed to a blend of pulverized and aerosolized
      toxins that had never existed in any occupational setting before. And this
      mix of toxins alone is enough to cause more aggressive cancers. "It's also
      enough to throw out prescriptions on timing," Hesdorffer adds. Back in May
      2004, before most doctors even contemplated a 9-11 link to cancer,
      Hesdorffer provided testimony to the federal government's September 11
      Victim Compensation Fund on behalf of one police officer who had developed
      pancreatic cancer within a year after his recovery stint. Hesdorffer finds
      it odd that two of his patients had been diagnosed with the rare cancer
      after working on the Pile. "It's strange to have two people who were
      subjected to the same
      exposure," he says, "developing the same cancer in the same time frame." Now
      that he has learned of Worby's statistics, he is convinced that "there is
      definitely more than a likely link between the 9-11 exposures and cancer."
      Francine Laden, who specializes in air pollution and cancer, agrees. Because
      so many of Worby's clients have blood cancers—which have faster incubation
      periods than tumor cancers, forming in as little as five years—Laden
      confirms that it's not a stretch to attribute their diseases to the dust
      cloud. "Blood cancers are different," she says, noting the tie between
      benzene and leukemia, as well as dioxin and lymphoma. "It's not beyond the
      realm of feasibility that these chemicals caused these cancers." Ozonoff
      puts it more firmly: "For an acute episode like this, it's definitely
      possible these blood cancers were caused by 9-11." Ozonoff echoes all five
      of his colleagues when he draws parallels between the aftermath of 9-11 and
      that of another
      massive exposure: the atomic-bombs dropped on Japan. Bomb survivors
      experienced excessive spikes in leukemia rates within the first five years,
      a surprising discovery for epidemiologists in the mid 20th century. While
      this outbreak resulted from radiation, both it and 9-11 involved a sudden
      and intense blast of carcinogens. For bomb survivors, leukemia appeared
      first, followed by breast and lung cancer. "That could happen with 9-11,"
      says Samet, the Johns Hopkins epidemiology department chair. "It might be
      what we're seeing today." It's also possible that the carcinogens in the
      Trade Center dust accelerated cancers already dormant or developing in the
      recovery workers, epidemiologists say. According to Richard Clapp, who
      directed the Massachusetts Cancer Registry from 1980 to 1989, toxins can not
      only instigate the genes that cause cancerous cells to divide, but also
      hasten their dividing. That means that a person with an undetected cancer
      will develop it faster and in a
      more virulent manner. He calls this the "promotional effect" and says some
      toxins associated with 9-11 have been known to speed up lymphomas and
      leukemias. "The promotional effect could have happened already," he says.
      Either way, Clapp adds, "It's hard not to attribute these cancers to 9-11."
      His gut, he says, is telling him one thing: "We'll be seeing a cancer
      explosion from 9-11, and we're starting to see it today."
      A nurse would ask John Walcott about possible causes of his acute
      myelogenous leukemia. Like Vallebuona, Walcott answered no to all the
      questions. And like Vallebuona, he didn't connect the dots between his time
      at ground zero and the cancer growing in his body.
      photo: Scott McDermott
      ---------------------------------
      At 8:30 on the morning of the terrorist attacks, Ernie Vallebuona was
      driving with his three-year-old son, also named Ernie, to a nearby Home
      Depot in search of the perfect paint color for the family bathroom.
      Vallebuona always listens to 1010 WINS in the car, so he turned on the
      radio. He soon heard the incredible news that a plane had crashed into one
      of the twin towers. Instantly, he got the call to respond. "We're all
      mobilizing," his NYPD supervisor told him via cell phone. "Get to work as
      fast as you can." Over in Pomona, some 36 miles away from Manhattan,
      37-year-old NYPD detective John Walcott was at his suburban home, killing
      time before a midnight tour on the narcotics unit, where he'd worked for a
      dozen years. He was relaxing on the couch when a friend from St. Louis
      called. "What the hell is going on in New York?" the friend asked,
      incredulously. Walcott had no idea what his friend meant. He flipped on the
      TV, only to see flames raging from the twin
      towers. Minutes later, he was behind the wheel of his minivan, speeding down
      the highway toward the World Trade Center. Some 200 miles southeast of the
      Trade Center site, 49-year-old Gary Acker was working in a bomb shelter
      dubbed the "earth station," an undisclosed location where AT&T keeps its
      large satellite dishes. At the time, Acker was managing the company's
      disaster recovery team, which restores critical communications after
      catastrophes. He had long viewed the post as the crowning achievement in his
      31-year career, one that suited his desire to make a difference. When the
      first plane hit the north tower, he was sitting in an equipment room, four
      floors below ground, running emergency drills. No one had turned on the TV,
      so he remained oblivious to the events unfolding in Manhattan. His wife,
      Alison, called him. "Look at the TV," she said, just as the second plane hit
      the south tower. Acker knew that New York City officials would be calling
      AT&T for help.
      "Pack up your equipment," he heard his wife say, "and get ready to ride."
      Back in Manhattan, Jessy McCarthy was not about to roll anywhere. The
      Verizon field technician was sitting in his office on East 91st Street,
      listening to the news on the radio, when he heard about the planes hitting
      the towers. He froze in place, unable to pull himself away from the
      broadcast for hours that day. Only that afternoon did he manage to go to a
      nearby work site to repair phone lines. Sitting in his truck, he stared in
      disbelief at all the people doused in gray dust walking up Third Avenue from
      downtown. His eyes locked on the caravan of people who'd been caught in that
      cloud. By the time McCarthy was taking in this ghostly scene, Vallebuona and
      Walcott had joined thousands of first responders at the World Trade Center.
      Both arrived at the site shortly after the 110-story twin towers came
      crashing down, and they spent the next 15 hours sifting through the
      wreckage. Racing to the scene
      from the Seventh Precinct, on Pitt Street, Vallebuona encountered a giant
      cloud of dust and smoke so hazy and dense, he couldn't see his hand in front
      of his face. He circled the periphery of what he thought was the scene,
      following the blaring sirens and running past pumper trucks and police
      cruisers twisted up like discarded tin cans. The dust caked his eyes and
      coated his lips. It filled his nostrils with a horrible smell, like burned
      plastic and flesh. Vallebuona happened to have a bandanna in his pants
      pocket, which he wrapped across his face. It did little to ward off the
      rancid odor. Walcott was also experiencing the noxious effects of the
      chemical brew. While the massive cloud had dissipated, the crystalline
      particles hung in the air like speckles in a snow globe. He waded though
      mounds of pulverized dust, knee-deep, tasting it on his lips, spitting it
      out of his mouth. Without a mask, he was coughing immediately. First came
      the black mucus and ashen chunks, then
      the dry heaves and blood. For hours, he wiped away dark gunk dripping from
      his eyes. He couldn't help but think that something was wrong. But he
      focused on the mission at hand, on the faint hope of discovering survivors.
      That day, he stepped over the only human body that he would find intact—a
      female, burned beyond recognition, a charred bra over her face. Acker
      arrived on the scene 24 hours later, after driving with 11 team members up
      the East Coast in a company trailer equipped with satellite transmission
      consoles and multiplex cables. He would spend the next 33 days in and around
      ground zero—first setting up a satellite at 1 Police Plaza, then manning
      phone lines across the street from what came to be known as the Pile. The
      plume enveloped the area from the moment he set foot there until he left.
      Many nights, he'd oversee the satellite atop 1 Police Plaza, just east of
      ground zero, and watch as the prevailing winds subsided and the bright-blue
      smoke settled in. It
      hung so heavily on the city that he couldn't see the guards stationed across
      the street. In these early days, Acker, Vallebuona, and Walcott all
      struggled to protect themselves from the toxic dust. The foul odor clogged
      the air for the three months that Vallebuona ended up working at the
      site—first on the Pile, hauling rubble with buckets, then around the
      perimeter, providing security and escorting residents to their dust-laden
      homes. When he and Walcott searched the rubble as part of the initial bucket
      brigade, they wore nothing over their faces but surgical masks. Respirator
      masks came weeks into their months-long recovery work; sometimes they came
      with the wrong filters. Because Walcott was a detective, he ended up
      spending his five-month stint not just at ground zero, but also at Fresh
      Kills. As much as he choked on the Lower Manhattan air, he dreaded the
      Staten Island landfill. Walcott knew everything in the towers had
      fallen—desks, lights, computers. But apart
      from the occasional steel beam, the detritus that he sifted through there
      consisted of tiny grains of dust—no furniture pieces, no light fixtures, not
      even a computer mouse. At times, the detectives would take shelter in wooden
      sheds, in an attempt to get away from what Walcott likes to call "all that
      freaking bad air." One day, he was sitting in the shed with his colleagues,
      eating candy bars and drinking sodas, when some FBI agents entered. They
      were dressed in full haz-mat suits, complete with head masks, which they had
      sealed shut with duct tape to ward off the fumes. As Walcott took in the
      scene, contrasting the well-protected FBI agents with the New York cops
      wearing respirator masks, one thought entered his mind: What is wrong with
      this picture? The same thought would cross Acker's mind only fleetingly, and
      only after weeks of working near ground zero, while he was hacking so hard
      he vomited something akin to chewed-up licorice. During his first days at
      the
      site, he wore the painter's mask that an NYPD lieutenant had given him, but
      it soon became too filthy from debris. By October, he was spitting up so
      much gunk that he called his doctor for an antibiotics prescription. But he
      wouldn't leave the site; when the fumes got bad, he'd sit in the company
      trailer and flip on the air conditioner. That had a filter, at least. AT&T
      had stocked its disaster trailers with almost everything—rubber boots, hard
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      Acker thought, staring at the shelves. All this stuff, yet no one had ever
      considered respirators. Around this time, McCarthy was just beginning to
      report for recovery duty. When Verizon asked for volunteers to restore phone
      lines
      near ground zero, he didn't hesitate. He arrived for his first assignment in
      early October and wound up staying downtown for the next 13 months, going
      from basement to basement, moving from Wall Street skyscrapers to Chinatown
      walk-ups. The first thing he saw in the company terminals was the Trade
      Center dust, piled on top of consoles, crammed into corners. He had to wipe
      down the equipment with his bare hands to see the wires. The dust had an
      orange hue; at times, it twinkled. And it always stunk, an unforgettable
      smell he struggled to get past every time. Invariably, he'd find it in his
      hair, on his eyelashes, in his tool belt, even under his fingernails.
      Sometimes, he'd gaze at the ceiling and get the sense of standing in the
      middle of a meadow thick with pollen. He could see the soot and dust
      floating in the air.
      ---------------------------------
      When it occurred to these responders that they might be sacrificing their
      health for the sake of the cleanup—as it did to anyone who came in contact
      with the foul-smelling smoke and dust—they took comfort in the official word
      at the time. In the immediate aftermath of 9-11, the EPA issued multiple
      statements on the air quality downtown. All were reassuring in nature. On
      September 18, the day after the New York Stock Exchange reopened for
      business, the EPA's Whitman said the air was safe to breathe. It has turned
      out those words were, in fact, false. In August 2003, the EPA inspector
      general issued a scathing 155-page report concluding that the agency hadn't
      had the data to make such blanket declarations at that time. By then, more
      than a quarter of EPA samples showed unsafe levels of asbestos, and the
      agency had yet to complete tests for mercury, cadmium, lead, dioxin, and
      PCBs. The inspector general's report went on to disclose another
      disconcerting fact—that the
      White House had pressured the EPA to sanitize its warnings about ground
      zero. The inspector general revealed that the White House Council on
      Environmental Quality had taken a red pen to the agency's press releases,
      adding reassuring statements and deleting cautionary ones, creating the
      overly rosy picture that the air was clean. In reality, the 9-11 fallout was
      like nothing anyone had been exposed to before. Everything in the towers had
      been ground into dust—concrete, steel, glass, insulation, plastic, and
      computers. Dust analyses would detect glass shards, cement particles,
      cellulose fibers, asbestos, and a mixture of harmful components, including
      lead, titanium, barium, and gypsum. In all, the dust contained more than 100
      different compounds, some of which have never been identified. And then
      there were the fires that smoldered for three months. They gave off not only
      the putrid plume, but also a blast of carcinogens—asbestos, dioxin, and
      polycyclic aromatic
      hydrocarbons, or PAHs. They also emitted benzene. In one disturbing analysis
      done by the U.S. Geological Survey, the dust had such high alkalinity levels
      it rivaled liquid Drano. Thomas Cahill, a physicist who sent a team to
      analyze the plume from a rooftop a mile away from ground zero, says he got
      worried once he noticed the color of the smoke had turned a fluorescent
      blue. That's a sure sign that ultra-fine particles (which can go deep into
      the lungs and enter the bloodstream) were coming off the Pile and permeating
      the air. When his team tested the plume, the scientists found higher levels
      of sulfuric acid, heavy metals, and other insoluble materials than anywhere
      else in the world, even in the Kuwaiti oil fields. "Not nice stuff," says
      Cahill, a professor emeritus of physics at the University of California at
      Davis, who has published three papers on the 9-11 plume, "and it was all
      being liberated by that smoldering pile, so those people got the full force
      of it."
      Today, Cahill is trying to identify what exactly the recovery workers were
      inhaling, but the data are incomplete. He does know one thing for certain:
      "You'd have to stand by a busy highway for eight years to get what these
      people on the site got in just four weeks." He then adds, "These poor people
      are part of an enormous experiment, I think."
      ---------------------------------
      In May 2003, John Walcott was 39 years old. He had just become a first-time
      father—of his daughter, Colleen—and had proudly coached a Bedford high
      school hockey team to the state regionals. That spring, he had noticed his
      energy fade. But he figured his 16-hour days juggling the narcotics beat,
      hockey practice, and parenthood were finally catching up to him. Still, the
      fatigue would consume him for weeks. He'd fall asleep at his desk or behind
      the wheel. Often he'd nod off in the middle of a conversation. Then he got
      the diagnosis: acute myelogenous leukemia, a white-blood-cell cancer. He was
      ordered straight to the hospital, where he underwent chemotherapy for the
      next 28 days. Eventually, a nurse would ask Walcott questions similar to
      those put to Valle-buona, the ones meant to pinpoint the possible causes for
      his cancer. Like Vallebuona, Walcott answered no to all the questions. And
      like Vallebuona, he didn't connect the dots between his time at ground zero
      and
      the cancer growing in his body. Visiting him in the hospital later, his
      sister, Debbie, did. "John," she said, "what the hell do you think you were
      around at ground zero?" It was a question that Gary Acker would also have to
      confront that summer, in a visit to his own doctor's office. The AT&T
      manager had never shaken that World Trade Center cough, struggling with sore
      throats and lung infections for 18 months after completing his recovery
      work, suffering through all kinds of inhalers and antibiotic regimens. At
      one point, his doctor diagnosed him with sleep apnea and ordered him to wear
      a pilot-like mask strapped over his face at night, so as to reduce his
      roaring snores. It didn't work. A perennial optimist, Acker ignored any hint
      that his health problems were 9-11 related. In September 2002, he got the
      first warning that his health was deteriorating from exposure to the dust
      cloud when he underwent a pulmonary test for the company. He was stunned by
      the doctor's
      response. "How many packs of cigarettes do you smoke a day?" the doctor
      asked Acker. "I don't smoke. I never have in my life." "Well, you have a
      real breathing problem," the doctor informed him. His second warning came in
      the summer of 2003, as Walcott was getting chemotherapy. In August, Acker
      was landscaping the backyard at his home, in Columbus, New Jersey, carrying
      two 50-pound buckets of stones, when his body buckled under a jolt of pain.
      It felt as if somebody had jabbed a fishhook into his rib cage and was
      slowly gutting him. He allowed for the possibility of a kidney stone and
      paid a trip to the doctor. Days later, he got a diagnosis that would stop
      his heart cold: multiple myeloma, a plasma cell cancer. Already, the super-
      advanced cancer had eaten its way through the bone marrow in his ribs, as
      well as many other bones in his body. For a fleeting moment, Acker thought
      about that thick and foul plume hanging over the Pile; could it have caused
      his
      cancer? But his optimism flooded back and he focused on his treatment
      instead—on the chemotherapy pills that he would take twice a day for the
      next 28 days. Only days later, after his oncologist confirmed that his
      myeloma likely formed in the last two years, did he finally make the tie-in
      to 9-11. By the spring of 2004, Acker and Walcott had endured not only
      months of chemotherapy, but also stem cell transplants. They experienced a
      series of life-threatening infections and trips in and out of the hospital
      before beating their cancers into remission.
      For a fleeting moment, Gary Acker thought about that thick and foul plume
      hanging over the Pile; could it have caused his multiple myeloma?
      photo: Scott McDermott Meanwhile, Vallebuona had just begun noticing
      gout-like symptoms. They started in his big toes, which doubled in size and
      became hot to the touch, and then moved to his knees, joints, and chest. For
      six months, he went back and forth to the doctor, getting more medicine,
      seeking more remedies. He wouldn't doubt that diagnosis until October 2004,
      when the searing stomachache tipped him off to what had really been causing
      pain in his abdomen. When he got the cancer diagnosis, Valle-buona was
      relieved about one thing. His doctor had been wrong about the gout. If
      nothing else, at least he wouldn't have to live with that excruciating pain
      for the rest of his life. As Vallebuona was coming to grips with his cancer
      in the fall of 2004, Jessy McCarthy was still feeling healthy. The Verizon
      technician had managed to evade the kinds of respiratory problems that have
      afflicted so many ground zero workers—the cough, the sinusitis, the
      asthma—in the two years
      since his recovery assignment had ended. He would experience nothing to
      suggest the grave disease that would sneak up on him. At least not until one
      day in October 2004, while taking a shower, when he saw a swelling around
      the glands under his arm, about the size of a marble. He thought: This is
      not right.
      In March 2005, after a biopsy of one of his lymph nodes, Jessy McCarthy
      finally was given the definitive diagnosis of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. By
      then, the recovery workers' lawsuits had been more than a year in the
      making.
      photo: Scott McDermott But McCarthy didn't feel sick; there were no dizzy
      spells or nausea. A trip to the family doctor to ask about the lump yielded
      little information, just something questionable about his blood. So McCarthy
      plodded on with his life, holding down his full-time job, taking care of his
      teenage son. Suddenly, within weeks, he noticed the lump had grown, and more
      had developed. His lymph nodes swelled all over his body, underneath his
      arms, in his groin, around his neck and chest. The lumps just seemed to
      sprout; they grew so big that they looked like mini-baseballs. Suddenly,
      McCarthy found himself undergoing a battery of medical exams—CAT scans, PET
      scans, blood tests, and anything else that would help narrow down the
      possibilities. It took six months to rule out every type of lymphatic
      infection. In March 2005, after a biopsy of one of his lymph nodes, McCarthy
      finally was given the definitive diagnosis of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. By
      then, the recovery
      workers' lawsuits had been more than a year in the making. Back in the
      winter of 2004, Walcott had just survived the worst of his hospital stays, a
      17-day stretch of 106-degree fevers, and was confined to his home. Months
      had passed since he learned that his leukemia likely resulted from his
      exposure to benzene while on the Pile, but he went in search of legal
      advice. He started with a lawyer friend, who encouraged him to keep looking.
      One attorney offered to take Walcott's case, as long as he put up his modest
      house to cover the fees. "Forget it," he said. Eventually, parents of the
      kids on his high school hockey team heard about his plight. During a visit,
      Walcott told some parents about his fruitless search. They had an idea. They
      could contact a trial lawyer whose son went to the same high school; his
      name was David Worby.
      ---------------------------------
      "I took the case as a favor," the lead attorney in the recovery workers'
      lawsuits says, sitting in his spacious penthouse office in White Plains. A
      trim man whose brown hair is graying at the temples, David Worby exudes
      confidence as he reclines in his chair and recalls the early days of what
      has become his greatest legal crusade. Long before the 9-11 suits, he had
      built a reputation as a gladiator lawyer on personal-injury cases; in 1989,
      he set a Westchester record by winning $18 million for a construction worker
      run down by a car. Fifteen years later, he was settling into early
      retirement when one of the Bedford parents told him about the ailing
      Walcott. "What was I supposed to do?" Worby asks. What started out as a case
      for one sick recovery worker quickly snowballed. Today, a team of 20
      attorneys at his firm of Worby Groner Edelman Napoli & Bern is handling the
      suits, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, for the thousands of
      workers associated with the
      Trade Center cleanup—police officers, firefighters, sanitation workers, iron
      workers, and Latino day workers. Last month, Federal District Judge Alvin
      Hellerstein rejected the city's claim for immunity in the Worby lawsuits and
      recently capped its liability at $1 billion. The judge is expected to
      appoint a special master to settle the workers' claims. Worby's client list
      continues to grow. It now includes Vallebuona, Acker, and McCarthy, all of
      whom came to him after he filed the first suits in September 2004. They
      found out about him as most of his clients do—by word of mouth, one sick
      recovery worker to another, one worried spouse to another. Others have
      called him after hearing about the cases on TV or the radio or in the
      papers. Most of the clients have grown ill from respiratory problems like
      asthma, sinusitis, and bronchitis. But some have kidney failure, and 400
      people have developed cancer. So far, 83 clients have died. The number of
      cancer patients has
      multiplied at a rate that Worby says he never anticipated. Back in 2004, he
      represented only 20 workers who had cancer. But by last March, he had
      watched that number soar to 200, and within six months after that, it had
      doubled. Now he gets at least several calls a week from clients who have
      just been diagnosed with some cancer. Or from new clients who have had the
      cancer for weeks or months. Like many trial lawyers, Worby has a penchant
      for talking in fervent, breathless tones, as though his words were writ
      large, in bright, blinking letters. Convinced that the 9-11 fallout has made
      for a cancer explosion, he doesn't hesitate to say so. "There is going to be
      a cancer catastrophe the likes of which we've never seen in this country,"
      he says. "The numbers are going to be staggering." Perhaps it'd be easy to
      dismiss him as another hot-aired plaintiffs' attorney were it not for his
      own command of numbers. He has become something of a gumshoe epidemiologist,
      compiling the
      data on his cancer patients that are lacking in the larger worker
      population, tracking their diseases, ages, diagnosis dates, and their 9-11
      exposures. "Look at the cancers my clients have," he says, flipping through
      a dozen pages of a document entitled "Seriously Ill Clients." It's updated
      every month; this one is dated September 13, 2006. The document outlines
      what he calls his "cancer clusters" and lists rare cancers often associated
      with the 9-11 toxins, such as thyroid (30 people), tongue and throat (25),
      testicular (16), and brain (10). He keeps a separate document on the 75
      people with blood cancers. Two dozen of them have various forms of leukemia;
      the remaining four dozen have various forms of lymphoma, multiple myeloma,
      and other blood cell cancers. "If I had two blood cancers, it'd be a strong
      coincidence," Worby argues. "But 70? That defies coincidence. The word
      coincidence should not be in anyone's vocabulary." Worby contends that it
      wasn't just the
      unprecedented amount of toxins in the air that caused his clients to develop
      cancer; it was that the toxins worked together. Worby calls it a
      "synergistic effect," and cancer specialists say there is such a thing as
      toxic synergy, which occurs when chemicals combine. They can enhance the
      damage that the other ones would cause. Think of it this way: The benzene at
      ground zero may have caused Walcott's acute leukemia; the dioxin probably
      sped up its development. "This amount of toxicological exposure is going to
      speed up normal latency periods," Worby argues. He makes this assertion with
      the same zeal that he exhibits in the courtroom, citing medical studies on
      animals, rattling off the findings as if they were second nature. Why would
      the doctors monitoring the effects of 9-11 on people's health not understand
      this connection, he wonders. "Why would people not make this link?"
      ---------------------------------
      Five years after September 11, there's no doubt that the toxic dust cloud
      has devastated the lungs of those who participated in the Trade Center
      cleanup. In September, the Mount Sinai Medical Center released data from its
      WTC Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program, which has tested 17,500
      recovery workers to date. In that analysis, doctors found that nearly 70
      percent of the 9,500 subjects they surveyed experienced new or worsened
      respiratory symptoms at ground zero; close to 60 percent saw those symptoms
      persist for years. Doctors have seen chronic sinusitis, laryngitis, asthma,
      gastroesophageal reflux disorder, and disabling musculoskeletal conditions.
      Even the famous World Trade Center cough has lasted much longer than
      anticipated. "All of us have been badly surprised by the persistence and the
      chronicity of the World Trade Center diseases," says Robin Herbert, the
      director of the screening program. But at the Mount Sinai program (and at
      the WTC program
      of the FDNY, which declined to comment for this article), the link between
      the dust cloud and cancer is discussed more as a possibility than a reality.
      It's not that doctors aren't extremely concerned about the connection,
      Herbert says, given the cancer-causing agents and other toxins in the mix.
      While individual cancer cases may be attributed to 9-11 toxins, she says,
      the doctors, so far, lack full epidemiological proof linking the two. "We
      don't know if we're seeing a spike in cancer rates," Herbert says, as they
      have in the rates of respiratory illnesses. Herbert confirms that the Mount
      Sinai doctors have seen some workers with cancer, including unusual cancers,
      but says they'd expect some workers to develop malignancies over the last
      five years anyway. Is there more incidence of cancer among Pile workers than
      among those who didn't toil on the Pile? "That's the key question," she
      says. The Mount Sinai epidemiologists have just begun to try to answer that
      by launching
      an initiative to update medical records, document new diagnoses, and track
      less-com mon diseases like cancer. It's a slow process, with no timeline.
      Still, she says, "We are now aggressively investigating every case of cancer
      that has been reported to us." But the WTC programs—funded by the federal
      government—have their share of critics, who wonder how interested the
      doctors are in the 9-11 and cancer issue. Al O'Leary, the spokesperson for
      the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, says that many of its members feel
      as if the doctors are ignoring the signs of a growing cancer cluster. "It
      was our impression that no one in the medical-monitoring programs believed
      the cancers could be happening this early," he explains. Over the past year,
      the police union has fielded a steady increase in calls from members who
      have developed cancer since working at ground zero. Last July, the PBA
      started its own World Trade Center health registry for its members, listing
      seven cancer
      cases at the time. Today, there are 20 cases; they include the 35-year-old
      who worked on the Pile and at Fresh Kills and now has multiple myeloma, the
      45-year-old who surveyed the Trade Center site for two years and now has
      leukemia, and the 41-year-old who manned the landfill morgue for three weeks
      and now has myeloma. "Now, don't you think this is all very suspicious?"
      O'Leary asks. "The medical community needs to be more open-minded about what
      diseases can be caused by 9-11." Some cancer specialists agree. Hesdorffer,
      of Johns Hopkins, still remembers the reaction to his testimony before the
      Victim Compensation Fund, back in 2004. He was called back about a
      half-dozen times to explain why he would attribute the pancreatic cancer in
      his two patients to the dust cloud so soon after 9-11. It was as if no one
      wanted to make the connection; one patient lost his claim despite the
      doctor's opinion. "We're in this period where no one wants to accept the
      link," Hesdorffer
      observes. Maybe the official denial stems from economics, from a desire to
      limit the amount of money owed to the thousands who have lost their health.
      Or maybe it has to do with politics. Admitting a link, as he points out,
      "would mean that the fallout from 9-11 was a lot bigger than we'd thought."
      What it would mean is that people got cancer from government decisions. From
      the decision of Whitman to lie about the air quality in Lower Manhattan,
      which gave the recovery workers and many other New Yorkers a false sense of
      security. From the decision of the White House to put Wall Street ahead of
      public health, which the EPA inspector general found had influenced all
      those rosy statements. And from the decision to let workers toil without
      proper respirators for weeks, or without any respirators at all.
      ---------------------------------
      For Gary Acker, now 54 and still undergoing monthly chemical drips to heal
      his bones, gone are the annual trips hunting for caribou in Canada and
      fishing for trout in the Adirondacks. Those years in the late '90s when he
      threw the javelin and shot put in the New York version of the Olympics seem
      like an adolescent memory. No longer working at AT&T, he devotes his time to
      trying to relax, watching mindless sitcoms on TV, anything to make himself
      laugh. "If I'm laughing, I'm not stressed," he says. His doctors tell him
      that no stress means less chance of a cancer relapse. Last year, Jessy
      McCarthy, now 48, had to work through his chemotherapy treatment, juggling
      the 72-hour drips with his job and his son for six months. He didn't have
      much choice; otherwise he'd lose his medical benefits. He could never afford
      the medical bills on his $65,000 salary; some of his medications cost $5,000
      a dose. Now in remission, he continues to fix phone lines, though he knows
      the day
      will come when he can't anymore. Already, he has had to call for help on
      assignments he used to do alone. He also knows, in the back of his mind,
      that his cancer is the kind that will likely return, and possibly kill him.
      Walcott and Vallebuona, both retired from the force because of their cancer,
      continue to live with the side effects of their treatments—the lost feeling
      in their hands and feet and the extreme fatigue. While Vallebuona has
      undergone chemotherapy, radiation, and a stem cell transplant, he still
      hasn't been able to beat his lymphoma into remission. They also grapple with
      what they both like to call "chemo brain." The drugs left Walcott, now 42,
      too incoherent to witness or recall the first time his daughter learned to
      walk or talk. For Vallebuona, now 41, the littler things seem to escape him,
      like the weekend plans his wife mentioned earlier in the day. But even their
      foggy minds have not erased the memories of two planes hitting the World
      Trade Center
      on that sunny September morning, when they had woken up healthy and happy to
      be alive.


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