Toxic Haste

Literally before the dust had cleared at Ground Zero, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the city's news media rushed to assure people that the city's air was safe. Now evidence is accumulating that these reassurances may have been tragically wrong, as investigators find dangerous levels of PCBs, mercury and asbestos thrown into the air by the disaster. "Many people who live or work in lower Manhattan are convinced that they have not been told the truth," reports Alyssa Katz. "They say that they're sick--throats sore, lungs hacking. Cleanup workers, local residents, and, most of all, firefighters at ground zero attest to intense respiratory illnesses unlike anything they recall experiencing before." In a separate story for, Kate Barnes reports that the New York Times has bent over backwards to ignore "the one story that most New Yorkers have worried about consistently. ... Downplaying the Ground Zero air story wasn't just an oversight. It may be the single biggest air pollution story ever missed."