A coalition of families of 9/11 survivors and victims filed a public records request on Sept. 8 to multiple New York City agencies requesting documents about the health impacts stemming from the World Trade Center attack 22 years ago.
Congressmembers Dan Goldman (NY-10) and Jerry Nadler (NY-12) expressed their support for the group Monday and urged New York City Mayor Eric Adams to comply with the request.
The coalition includes Benjamin Chevat, director of 9/11 Health Watch, Karen Klingon, Yvonne Baisley, Phil Alvarez, and Charlotte Berwind. Baisley’s brother was FDNY firefighter Robert Fitzgibbon. Alvarez’s brother was NYPD Detective Luis G. Alvarez. Berwind was filing for volunteer firefighter Charles E. Flickinger, Jr.
The public records request was filed via the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and seeks information that would “help provide injured and ill 9/11 responders, survivors, and their families a better understanding of the health risks associated with toxins released after the attacks that poisoned tens of thousands,” according to Goldman’s office in a statement.
“Over six months have passed since we called on the Adams administration to release what the Giuliani administration knew about the toxins at Ground Zero while they were claiming it was safe for New Yorkers to return,” Goldman and Nadler jointly said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged that the World Trade Center collapse released carcinogenic by-products and that the Twin Towers collapse created “massive dust clouds that filled the air and left hundreds of highly populated city blocks covered with ash, debris, and harmful particles, including asbestos, silica, metals, concrete, and glass.”
The exposure to these “9/11 agents” has been linked to long-term health conditions such as acute traumatic injuries, aerodigestive disorders, many types of cancers, mental and behavioral health conditions, and musculoskeletal disorders, according to the CDC.
Hundreds of thousands of people were to exposed toxic materials and thousands have died from 9/11-related illnesses since 9/11.
The FOIL was filed with multiple agencies including the city’s Department of Design and Construction, Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Health, Office of the Mayor, Law Department, Office of Emergency Management, and the City Council.
The coalition requests information about hazardous substances contained in World Trade Center buildings, including “materials found in X-ray equipment, materials found in radiation oncology equipment, diesel fuel stored under WTC 7, polychlorinated biphenyls, asbestos, other radioactive materials, carcinogens, and materials known to have neurotoxic effects if released and/or subject to burning.”
The agencies are also being asked to include information about the release of contaminants and toxins from the structure collapses, as well as the “earliest analyses of the toxins, dust, and fumes blanking lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.”
There were information requests regarding the New York City Department of Education’s decision to move students and teachers into schools in the “frozen zone below Houston” Street, and a question was posed about the testing done to determine the safety of schools.
The coalition is also asking for documents that have not been publicly disclosed by the city up to this point about the collapse of the World Trade Center, including the release of toxins, air or dust testing, and reopening of schools.
The agencies are required to respond to FOIL requests within five business days of receiving the request, according to the FOIL process. They will either produce the requested information, deny the request, or simply provide a written acknowledgement of receipt.
“We remain unsatisfied with the City’s failure to make these documents available, which are essential to advancing medical research for those suffering with 9/11 related illnesses,” Goldman and Nadler jointly stated. “Our 9/11 families can’t wait any longer. As we approach yet another year since that horrific day, we must deliver the truth for our survivors who need answers.”