In the News: Former Official Apologizes for Being Wrong About 9/11 Dust

••• “The death toll among those sickened by the toxic dust and ash of Ground Zero will within as little as five years exceed the number of people killed on the day of the 9/11 attacks, experts say. […] In 2001, government officials, most prominently the then head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Christine Todd Whitman, assured those in lower Manhattan in the days after the attacks that the air was safe. In an interview with the Guardian this weekend, Whitman said for the first time that in hindsight she had been mistaken. She apologised to those affected by the toxic debris.” So that’ll help. —The Guardian

••• “In the wake of the terror attacks, city and state officials came up with a number of incentives to restart investment south of Chambers Street—in addition to pre-existing subsidies at the World Trade Center site that have been on the books since the 1970s. In 2017, the Independent Budget Office estimates, the value of those tax breaks will total roughly $230 million. But the IBO also expects that the value of one specific incentive, the Commercial Rent Tax exemption, will increase to $10 million from $4 million once the World Trade Center and the Fulton Transit Center are fully operational.” —Crain’s

••• A profile of state assembly candidate Don Lee. —Broadsheet

••• Q&A with the manager of the new Four Seasons hotel, with a slideshow of photos by Johanna Jainchill. Below: the reception desk. —Travel Weekly

Four Seasons reception deck by Johanna Jainchill for Travel Weekly



  1. The Guardian’s article is a good one but the count of those affected by the dust remains focused almost exclusively on the first responders and those who worked on the pile. Don’t get me wrong — I believe they should get all the benefits they deserve for their selflessness and noble work. I will never be able to thank them enough. However, there is an untold story that needs to be told, and that is the number of local residents who have been affected by the dust that remained in the area for many months afterward. Some of us returned to our apartments days after 9/11. We remember wiping away the gray dust from the sills of even closed windows and breathing in the foul air. Some of us were affected by cancers that are listed by the World Trade Center Health Program. I joined the program simply to be part of the statistics. By the time I joined 2 years ago (and even thought about it) my cancer treatment was just completed and I felt healthy again (thank goodness). I quizzed the doctors at the WTCHP about the statistics for residents. They told me they’ve never collected any. Some of the doctors freely admit (at least they did to me) that this is a political hot potato. No one wants to be liable for possible payments that may be due to the residents as well. Now,15 years later, when many of these cancers start to manifest, I wonder how many have been affected and if there are much higher rates of cancer and other related ailments in this neighborhood than is the norm. I suspect so. This study should be undertaken, and should include those who lived nearby during those years and have since moved away. I profoundly hope, as many others will, that if my cancer was caused (we will never know for certain) by WTC air contamination, that I will be the only one in my family that will be affected.

  2. In reply to Ron:

    Your comment is so heartfelt and sincere (and poignant) that I hesitate to take issue with it. But I’m surprised to read that the WTC Health Registry is *not* compiling data on residents’ health with the intent of running careful statistics and disclosing the findings. I dropped out of the program several years ago — after many rounds of dutifully answering exhaustive survey questions for myself and my children. Before I bailed, I had the strong impression that their work was and is thorough and honest.

    I encourage you to communicate with the Registry in writing to learn more and report back to us.

    Many thanks.

    • Thank you Charles. This is a complicated one for me to express properly. All of the professionals whom I have encountered at the WTCHP have been caring and their service has been excellent. There is no doubt in my mind that they are doing their absolute best for all those registered. I do believe their work is thorough and honest and never intended to suggest otherwise. What I was trying to say is this: to my knowledge, there is no proactive program to track the effects on just plain residents. I came to the program voluntarily, solely to be part of their data. While they have proactively tracked and reported on first responders and those who were involved in the cleanup, as they should, there has not been a broader survey of the neighborhood’s residents. I may be mistaken. I certainly do not mean to look ill upon anyone involved. The WTCHP doctors with whom I have spoken conveyed to me that there is no broader study completed or planned to gauge the impact on the entire neighborhood. If I have this wrong, then I sincerely apologize. I would like to see that study myself. Those residents who join the program, as I did and you did, however, will be added to the database and afforded care as needed. I will take your suggestion to see what I can find out. Thanks again.

      • Thanks for your kind reply, Ron. I really ought to be joining you in trying to find out what if any studies are in the works on residents’ health impacts, and in putting pressure on WTCHP staff to step up as needed. I have other fish to fry, though, so am going to pass for the time being. But please let me know if you think of a way for me to assist. [komanoff at gmail dot com] Best, Charles.

  3. Used to work with Whitmans son in 2000-2001. I asked him to directly ask his mom if it was safe for me to move back to BPC a few months after I was able to get back into my apartment. She told him that it was safe so I did. I remember waking up some days with bloody noses and headaches questioning the move so I did chemical tests of the dust I collected from the clean up and we found asbestos, arsenic, and chromium. The air was bad and they knew it. So now I forever live in constant fear about the long term impact.
    She even lied to her kid about it. Evil bitch.

  4. Someone in Washington, DC knew something . I helped serve food to 9/11 recovery workers at St Paul’s Chapel for eight months.Those workers barely wore face masks and dug with bare hands but the one time Federal agents came to visit they were the only ones wearing full
    Hazmat suits top to toe. We neighbors had all been told our stinky putrid air was safe. That’s when we looked at each other and knew someone was lying. Many fire fighter I spoke with told me if they had been told to suit up, they would have. We can only imagine the many many lives that would have been saved.