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People in the Midland Beach area Residents of Staten Island May Be Exposed to Toxic Dust

November 7, 2012 1 comment

This picture was taken at Midland Beach at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Father Capodano Boulevard on Sunday, November 4th. Journalists with Civis Journal reported no unusual air quality problems. However, when visiting the same area on Tuesday, November 6th our crew immediately felt unsafe and had to cancel their trip due to possible health concerns over the highly visible presence of dust.

Whilst going down to visit the Midland Beach area that was affected by Hurricane Sandy, one journalist and a photographer had to cut short their intended trip when they saw what appeared to be excessive dust clouds in the air. As they approached Lincoln Ave and Father Capodano Boulevard it looked as if there were sand in the air. Upon closer inspection they witnessed a sanitation or rubbish removal crew piling debris from houses in large container to be hauled away. One walked about to take pictures while the other went back to his staging area to get face masks. On his return the pair attached the masks and limited themselves to only 10 minutes of photography due to the fact the dust particles in the air were intense.

Whilst they could not say for certain that all of the dust was from the debris being crushed and carted away, there is evidence to believe that most of it is. For one thing there was plenty of sand in the area on Sunday when two journalists visited the area but they did not report any unusual dust in the air. There was no widespread collection of debris in one central location, though there were sanitation trucks carting off debris in small amounts. A number of people on the streets were wearing masks on Tuesday while these journalists observed a far lower number doing the same last Sunday.

If the dust is due to the removal of materials then it is important to consider the possible ramification on residents’ health: older homes – of which there are a number in the area – contain asbestos, which if disturbed or removed in an improper manner has links with cancer. Other materials, which may not be as harmful – such as gypsum used in Sheetrock – are not good to inhale and might lead to respiratory problems.

When the World Trade Centre building were destroyed on September 11, 2001 many first responders and residents in the area became sick and developed a number of symptoms many attribute to the release of toxic debris in the area. There were concerns at the time that the air quality was unsafe and that more needed to be done to protect workers and residents. What measures are being taken to measure, record and monitor the air quality in the Midland Beach area today? The answer to that question is of no small importance to the workers, volunteers and residents of the area. With the knowledge we have gained from past errors, is it not reasonable to seek protective measures to avoid the possible exposure of people to potentially dangerous materials?
Civis Journal

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