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EPA Still Refuses to Effectively Regulate a Toxic Ground Zero Dust

January 20, 2022 | Michael Barasch

Twenty years after 9/11, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) still refuses to update its regulation of corrosive alkaline dust, according to a lawsuit filed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Often released during building demolition and cement mixing, alkaline dust at high concentrations could result in chemical burns, particularly to the respiratory system.

The collapse of the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11 released enormous amounts of alkaline dust, as well as many other harmful toxins such as asbestos, benzene, and pulverized glass and concrete.

All of the 100,000 first responders at Ground Zero and 400,000 other people working, living, and studying in Lower Manhattan on and after 9/11 were exposed to these toxins, dramatically increasing their risk of 68 types of cancer and many respiratory illnesses.

At the time, EPA Director Christine Todd Whitman told the public that the air in Lower Manhattan was “safe” to breathe.

We now know it wasn’t, and thousands of 9/11 first responders and survivors have since been diagnosed with cancer or respiratory illness as a result.

PEER’s lawsuit, if successful, would require the EPA to warn the public when alkaline dust reaches levels considered hazardous under internationally-recognized standards.

If you were there in Lower Manhattan on or after 9/11, we urge you to register with the World Trade Center Health Program and the Victim Compensation Fund – even if you are currently healthy. 

By registering, you protect your right to access free health care and register a claim with the Victim Compensation Fund in the future.

Visit or call 212-385-8000 today.


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