After the horrific World Trade Center (WTC) disaster in 2001, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman assured a worried nation and terrified residents that the airborne hazardous substances at the site were "below background levels" and no worse than a "typical smoggy day." She was wrong.
WTC "First Responders" and nearby residents waded into dust so corrosive that it resulted in chemical burns to their respiratory systems. High levels of corrosive dust led to respiratory disabilities and deaths. Yet, if a similar disaster occurred today, many of the same results would occur. That is because the EPA standard -- due to improper testing and a concerted failure to re-examine the toxic properties of the dust -- is ten times more lax than the non-hazardous levels established by the United Nations World Health Organization.
Last year on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, PEER (on behalf of a whistle-blowing EPA scientist) filed a formal demand for rulemaking to dramatically tighten its corrosive dust standard so that responders would be alerted to use personal protection equipment, and for EPA to adopt the standards used in the European Union and Canada. EPA has yet to respond. This petition asks EPA to adopt the proposed PEER rulemaking.