|On Sunday, August 20th, I attended a screening of a documentary called "The Toxic Clouds of 9/11: A Looming Health Disaster", produced and directed by Allison Johnson of The Chemical Sensitivity Foundation. It was a disturbing film. It was a heartbreaking film. It was a film in which workers and residents, who had been exposed to the toxic fumes of 9/11, shared their stories of illness, suffering and disability. These were the stories of people who selflessly volunteered in the aftermath of the World Trade Center disaster. These were the stories of people who risked their lives for their fellow human beings. And these were the stories of people who are now paying a deadly price for their heroism.
After 9/11, both New York City Mayor Giuliani and President Bush wanted to show that New York City was back in business. Before the asbestos dust had cleared, Giuliani notified city employees who had taken off 9/12/01 that they would have to charge the time off to accrued leave time. The New York Stock Exchange opened a week after 9/11. The Federal EPA under Christine Todd Whitman gave the area around the WTC a "clean bill of approval" without doing any testing. They completely ignored such obvious problems as the chemical haze in the area and reports of workers becoming ill after returning to work downtown. This pattern of lies continues and the number of sick and dying people continues to rise. http://www.gatago.com/alt/military/9313447.html
Health officials deny it but many first responders to the 9/11 attacks seem to be getting sick or are dying at an alarming rate because of exposure to toxic chemicals. An NYPD detective died at age 34. An autopsy linked his death to dust exposure at Ground Zero. An FDNY medic was dead at 41. The doctors pointed to his "exposure to the World Trade Center disaster." In both cases, the city denied any link. Patrick Bahnken, Pres. FDNY EMT Union said "The reality is we are dying quicker than medical science can catch up to us. http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=investigators&id=4203468
On May 16, 2006, an article by Anthony DePalma, appeared in the New York Times. It was titled "Firefighters' lung Capacity Suffered After 9/11 Work". The article talked about a health study that showed that the city's firefighters had suffered a significant decline in their lung capacity after working at Ground Zero.
Despite the lies of Christine Todd Whitman, the air at Ground Zero was not safe. Ms. Whitman "forgot" to mention that it contained such chemicals as dioxin, mercury, asbestos and lead. But Ms. Johnson's documentary did not forget to mention those "small" details. In fact, there were interviews with legal and health experts who talked about these deadly chemicals that are now causing otherwise healthy people to develop asthma, cancer, heart and lung problems. They are coughing up blood. They cannot work. Their lives are a living hell. And they are all but being ignored.
Many people are suffering with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Rachel Hughes' life has been severely limited. If she is exposed to cleaning products, perfume, cigarette smoke and a variety of other chemicals, her chest tightens and she has trouble breathing.
Christopher Hynes, a forgotten victim of 9/11 has a constant battle for breath. Five years ago, Hynes was a 30-year-old, healthy New York City police officer. Then, in September and October 2001, he was assigned to Ground Zero duty. He spent more than 100 hours patrolling the perimeter of the smoldering rubble of the twin towers.
Today, Hynes, married and the father of a 4-year-old son, has sarcoidosis, a disease that scars lung tissues. He also has asthma, a disease that inflames and obstructs the airways of the lungs. He coughs constantly and cannot exert himself without losing breath. He survives with the help of steroids and performs restricted duties for the Police Department.
"I will probably have this for the rest of my life," Christopher said.
Five years ago, Winston Lodge was a 44-year-old ironworker who helped build things. He pitched in at Ground Zero for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for a month.
Today, Lodge's nose runs constantly and often bleeds. He suffers headaches from sinus pressure, has shortness of breath from chronic bronchitis and has painful heartburn. He has undergone surgery to relieve sinus difficulties and is awaiting a second operation. Since 2004, Lodge, a divorced father of four, has been unable to work.
"I am sick to my bones and I need help," Lodge said.. http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/437742p-368865c.html
How many people are suffering? I do not know. However, I do know that the numbers are in excess of 12,000. I also know that the numbers will continue to rise.
After the film, I spoke with Helene Verin, a volunteer who had fed the fireman during the first days after the WTC disaster. She is very ill. In 2003, she was hospitalized with a fever of 104 degrees. She cannot sleep and coughs all night. She has asthma and other upper respiratory illnesses. She suffers from a variety of maladies that have left 22 doctors scratching their heads. Physicians are not trained in occupational medicine and have difficulty evaluating the condition. They often wind up prescribing antibiotics.
I also spoke with Marvin Bethea, a Paramedic. He is presently on 15 medications. His organization is called Heroes Helping Heroes and can be found at www.unsunghhh.org.
Their mission is to "advocate, disseminate information and raise funds to assist responders, clean-up rescue and recovery workers from the 9-11-01 World Trade Center disaster and other catastrophic events, in securing the necessary medical and psychological treatment, rehabilitation and pecuniary benefits".
Bonnie Giebfried, an Emergency Medical Technician and Volunteer Firefighter told me about her multiple illnesses. Her vocal chords were burned, she has damage from her neck to her knee and suffers from many other toxic exposure problems. Bonnie recalled that horrific day in 2201:
“Our breathing was getting worse and worse. We were suffocating. We were literally starting to die, because the air was depleting. No light, nothing. It was completely, completely black. All we could think was, Get out. Get out. Everybody was screaming, ‘Smash the window! Smash the window!’ Then it got really quiet, and I think that’s when it dawned on us that we might not get out of there. I could barely hear people inhaling and exhaling. I could hear my heart beating.”
Ground Zero workers were sent into 'the largest acute environmental disaster that ever has befallen New York City' without proper respiratory protection - and thousands are paying the price. http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/437742p-368865c.html
Insurance companies have virtually turned their backs on these people. One woman, who was making $60,000 prior to toxicity exposure is now in debt for $60,000. Where is the help? Where is the humanity?
One person stated "I wish I had died that day. This is not living. This is existing. I have become a different person. I am a horrible shell of an individual. Death would have been a saving grace".
A Musical Break (August 15, 2006)
Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what,whence and whereto - Ralph Waldo Emerson
The world is filled with injustice. The world is filled with heartache. Amidst the constant cries of crises, there are few places that offer respite. Music is one such place. The intervals between the notes provide rest for the weary soul.
Music therapist, Jean Maas has said:
"Music is the greatest power I have ever experienced. I doubt if anything else equals its power to act upon the human organism.
Even for those who take the trouble to think about it, music remains fairly much of a mystery. You see, when we are dealing with music, we are not merely dealing with the energies of science nor with the art of mortal beings, we are dealing with a force greater than our finite minds can comprehend. Brahms said that when composing, he felt inspired by a power external to himself. This incredible mystery has exerted its influence throughout the ages.
The civilizations of antiquity knew the value of music. Both Plato and Socrates gained distinction as musicians and regarded the art as indispensable to the health of the soul. It was used as a therapeutic tool by the ancient Chinese, Hindus, Persians, Egyptians and Greeks. In the first book of Samuel, it is related that David freed Saul from an obsessive depression using music. The Arabs of the 13th century had music rooms in their hospitals.
Paracelaus practiced what he called "musical medicine." He used specific compositions for specific maladies, mental, moral and physical. http://www.internationalparentingassociation.org/Music/studies.html .
In the healing Temples of Asclepius, the afflicted slept listening to the curative powers of music.
And today, music is still being used for its healing properties. Don Campbell, author of "The Mozart Effect", a definitive work on the power of music to heal the body, strengthen the mind and unlock the creative spirit, has compiled some of the best of Mozart's music, specially selected to stimulate, inspire and harness maximum benefits for children. http://www.westmark.pvt.k12.ca.us/music.html
Studies have shown that the music of Mozart has a powerful effect on the intellectual and creative development of children to:
· increase verbal, emotional and spatial intelligence
· improve concentration and memory
· enhance right-brain, creative processes
· strengthen intuitive thinking skills
Investigation has shown that music affects every part of the human being. Even the neural networks of the brain have been found to be sensitive to harmonic principles.
The implications of these findings are vast. Young people spend many hours plugged into rock music, rap music, heavy metal or whatever their drug of choice may be. What are the possible effects on the heart, digestion, respiration, and emotional nature of this unsuspecting audience? Soft eggs were taken to rock concerts and placed at the foot of the stage. Midway through the concert, the eggs could be eaten hard-boiled !!!! Do rock fans and their parents wonder what this same music might be doing to their bodies? The Environmental Protection Agency in America has discovered that current generations of youth suffer from hearing problems associated with fifty and sixty year olds.
Many experiments have been conducted as to the effects of music upon non-human life. In one experiment, conducted by psychologists, rats were able to run freely between two separate but connected boxes Bach was piped into one box, while rock was piped into the other. The rats all spent their time in the Bach box. To test the purity of the experiment, the music was reversed. Gradually, the rats relocated to the new Bach box. (kind of a variation on "leaving the sinking ship, eh?)
Plant-music research has also been conducted. Two independent series of experiments, one in the Soviet Union and the other in Canada, have discovered that seeds of wheat can be made to grow faster when treated with tones. Another series of experiments showed that Bach's Brandenburg concertos made geraniums grow faster.
Dr T. C. Singh, head of the Botany Department at Annamalia University, India, has also conducted research into the effects of music on plants. He discovered not only that constant exposure to classical music caused plants to grow at twice their normal speed, but also went on to find what seemed to be one of the main causes of this accelerated growth. The sound waves of a musical instrument, Dr Singh found, cause increased motion in cellular protoplasm. (Protoplasm is the basic material of which all plant - and animal and human - life is made up.) ....In Dr Singh's experiments, the violin was found to be one of the most life-enhancing instruments of all. Altogether, life-enhancing characteristics as a result of music were shown in balsam, sugar cane, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes and other plants besides. Yet, perhaps the most interesting and significant of all of Dr Singh's findings was that later generations of the seeds of musically stimulated plants carried on the improved traits of greater size, more leaves, and other characteristics. Music had changed the plants' chromosomes! http://melbourne.indymedia.org/news/2006/03/109198.php
Confucius said "Music molds character". It has the ability to build up or tear down. According to the evidence presented by contemporary music therapy, good music does indeed appear to harmonize man's being and bring him into more healthy patterns of thought, feeling and action.
We live in a challenging universe and it grows more challenging each day. The world seems to be on the precipice of demise and one small push will send it over the edge. We listen to the news and watch pictures of devastation in the Middle East. The heartbreak is palpable. It is easy to succumb to despair. Despair is not the answer. And yet, if we do not pepper the darkness with spiritual upliftment, we are useless to ourselves and to others. Music is my spiritual upliftment. And, if only for a moment or an hour, I find myself soaring with the angels.
After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music - Aldous Huxley
Copyright Judy Andreas 2006