Saturday, October 14, 2006
Lost in the Dust of 9/11: From society's margins, janitors were drafted for an epic cleanup around ground zero. Then 'the cough' racked their lives.
Interesting extended article in today's Los Angeles Times -- Lost in the Dust of 9/11: From society's margins, janitors were drafted for an epic cleanup around ground zero. Then 'the cough' racked their lives, by Ellen Barry. The article traces the lives of two janitors who assisted in the clean up of the toxic dust in the buildings close to the World Trade Center site. Given the chaos, the city's Department of Environmental Protection did not oversee the removal of the dust, according to the article. The article also mentions a class action against the owners of buildings near the site, and refers to the role of workers compensation benefits. Overall, the article nicely interweaves the human story with the legal themes. Here's an excerpt:
There is no voice left in Manuel Checo's voice. He speaks in a granular rasp that fades,
occasionally, to whispery puffs of air. Sometimes, for periods as long as two days, he is
unable to speak at all.
When that happens, Checo carries a pad of paper with him so he can scribble down notes
if he needs something. But for the most part, he will simply disappear into his rented
room, ignoring his cellphone when it rings.
Checo, a janitor, spent six months cleaning dust from office buildings around ground zero
after the World Trade Center attack. Five years later, the lining of his lungs is pocked with
scars and densities that do not belong there — possibly a sign of a disease that can cause
lung tissue to become so stiff that it can no longer carry oxygen, wrote a radiologist who
examined a scan of his lungs last year.