Toiling deep in the bowels of Ground Zero,
Firefighter Kevin Delano suspected he was breathing in poison but
continued hunting for bodies anyway.
Now there's more proof the asthma that has made it impossible for the
52-year-old to cross his lawn without wheezing was caused by the deadly
dust he inhaled.
A soon-to-be-published study co-authored by David Prezant, the Fire
Department's deputy chief medical officer, has found that FDNY rescuers
lost the equivalent of 12 years of lung function because of exposure to
"We knew it was bad, we knew it was bad from the first day," said
Delano, who had to retire from the FDNY after 9/11 and also has been
battling leukemia. "This just proves it."
Prodded by a series of hard-hitting Daily News editorials that
described the plight of 12,000 ailing Ground Zero workers, Mayor
Bloomberg has promised to look into whether the city has stiffed its
But Bloomberg has refused, thus far, to acknowledge that the deaths of
at least four first responders - and the illnesses of thousands more -
were directly related to their toiling in The Pit.
The analysis of fire and Emergency Medical Technician workers conducted
by the FDNY and Montefiore Medical Center-Albert Einstein College of
Medicine could make Bloomberg reconsider his position. It found that
firefighters in The Pit suffered a loss of lung power "equal to that of
12 years of age-related decline."
"Those who had more exposure, those who arrived earlier, had a more
severe loss," said Montefiore's Dr. Gisela Banauch, also a co-author of
the study, parts of which were released in May and all of which will be
published next week in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical
"We don't know if these rescue persons will recover and continue to
lose their function at a normal pace or lose at a faster pace than a
normal pace," Banauch added.
Ironworker Joseph Libretti, 48, is one of the many rescuers with
scarred lungs. He lost his brother, Firefighter Daniel Libretti, when
the north tower collapsed. He then lost his health looking amid the
rubble for the remains of his brother and countless others.
"Until the Daily News came with a list of toxins, they went around and
told us everything was fine," Libretti said, referring to post-9/11
columns by Juan Gonzalez, one of the first to sound the alarm about
"It wasn't just that they lied," Libretti added. "They allowed that lie to fester."
Every breath is now an ordeal for Tarnisa Moore, a 54-year-old
grandmother of four who was a supervisor at the Marriott Hotel at the
World Trade Center.
"We were dying and the government was talking about not scaring
people," said Moore, who suffers from asthma, lung disease and other
ailments. "It was a coverup."
Originally published on July 27, 2006