The smoke and toxic dust from the destruction of the World Trade Center on 911 affected pregnant women living nearby, causing them to have smaller babies, which tend to have more health and developmental problems. A new report says the White House told the EPA to downplay the dangers of the dust so as not to cause a panic. If they’d been honest with the public, some of these Moms might have left the area and their babies might not have been affected.
The report says the EPA “did not have sufficient data and analyses” to make a “blanket statement” when it announced seven days after the attack that the air around ground zero was safe to breathe. “Competing considerations, such as national security concerns and the desire to reopen Wall Street, also played a role in EPA’s air quality statements,” the report says.
Pregnant moms who smoke also have smaller babies. Epidemiologist Trudy Berkowitz says, “We don’t really understand how cigarette smoking reduces birth weight, but we can speculate it could affect oxygen levels or blood flow. In that sense particulate matters might have the same effect.”
Shaoni Bhattacharya writes in New Scientist that besides a cloud of dust, the terrorist attack released soot, benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals, pulverized glass and cement, and alkaline particulates into lower Manhattan. PAHs bind to DNA in the white blood cells of the umbilical cord in mothers who are exposed to air pollution during pregnancy.
Berkowitz will keep track of the 911 babies to see if there are any long-term effects on their cognitive and motor development.
September 11, 2001, changed our world. Will we ever know what really happened that day?
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