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EPA Chemist Who Exposed Toxic 9/11 Dust Reinstated

Kristen Griffin brings a fresh perspective to news and blog content for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Kristen Griffin

May 12, 2012

Washington, DC - Yesterday Cate Jenkins was reinstated in her former position as a chemist with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after blowing the whistle on the government for allegedly covering up how dangerous the dust at the 9/11 sites were to first responders.

Jenkins was the first EPA official to issue warnings about the corrosive dust emanating from the downed Twin Towers. After 9/11, the corrosive dust was found to cause extensive lung damage to first responders, with some of the lung damage becoming permanent.

At the time, many of the affected first responders – including police, fire and emergency workers – were not given proper or adequate protective gear that would have prevented extensive inhalation of the toxic dust.

In the wake of 9/11, Christine Todd Whitman, the former administrator for the EPA, was warned by the Bush administration to not disclose the health risks from the corrosive dust.

As a whistleblower, Jenkins called out the EPA for intentionally covering up the health dangers which included toxic amounts of cement particles, glass fibers, lead and airborne asbestos. Further, the dust rising from Ground Zero had an extremely high pH level which, when breathed in, would be akin to inhaling powdered chemicals. Essentially, the dust included toxins that would wreck havoc in the body from the brain to the lungs.

Asbestos, a known human carcinogen, is the only cause of mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer. Most commonly, mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs, though it may also affect the linings of the heart and abdominal wall. Pleural mesothelioma, as this form is known, results from direct exposure to asbestos.

Many 9/11 first responders have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, other lung conditions and different types of cancer because of the lack of protective gear and the Bush administration's downplay of the imminent health dangers of the World Trade Center dust.

In 2010, Jenkins was officially terminated from her position with the EPA.

Jenkins will be reinstated with back pay.

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