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It is not often that I take up a cause which calls for more studies and possibly government funding and or intervention. As a constitutional libertarian it is generally against my belief system. However I am willing to make an exception in a very important but short lived exception. I believe it could be considered part of the presidential war powers and thus not an assault on constitutional liberties. There was already one commission for 9/11, to determine what happened and how we could have prevented it. I think there should be another.
It's a no brainer to me that pollutants can trigger asthma and cause lung damage. It's also a no brainer that there was a lot of pollution associated with the attack on NY. There were a lot of people who lived in that vicinity and also a lot of workers who conducted rescue operations and cleanup for the city. It would seem na´ve to assume that the attacks had no affect on these people's lung health.
According to University of California-Davis, there were elevated levels of sulfur, silicon, nickel and various other pollutants in the air samples taken in NYC right after the attacks. (Associated Press, 2/12/02). It is also believe that lead, mercury and asbestos may have been in the air in great quantities. It is believed that children run a greater risk of asthma and other lung problems as a result of this pollution due to the fact that they breathe in greater quantities of air than adults.
Our heroic firefighters are also affected, even though they used breathing apparatus during their work at the WTC. In 2002, some 200 of them were on medical leave, mostly citing breathing problems (according to the NY Daily News 3/1/02). Others estimate that approximately the same amount of firefighters may never be able to work again due to lung problems.
What happened on 9/11 was an act of war. Those who were injured during clean up and rescue should be cared for just as our soldiers who become ill in defense of our country. And I'm sure that we can find a way, without giving away our freedom, to make sure the children who will never be able to breathe normally again are cared for.
But before we can do this we need to evaluate exactly how widespread and how serious the damage is in the first place. Then we can determine how best to treat it. No, I'm not up for establishing a government controlled healthcare system in order to do this, nor am I suggesting that all people with asthma go onto a massive government dole. But I'm sure we can remain free and still take care of those citizens who have been injured by our enemies.
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