from washington post: The federal government has abandoned an effort to create standard autopsy guidelines that could document a link between toxic air at Ground Zero and deaths of rescue workers, citing concerns that the data could be misinterpreted.
The chief medical officer for the city Fire Department said one of the study's "insurmountable barriers" included the possibility that the information could be used in civil lawsuits by lawyers and others with an "undeniable self-interest" in the cause of death.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, in a note posted Friday on its Web site, said the agency "instead will pursue other avenues for documenting long-term health effects from exposure to air contaminants from the World Trade Center disaster."
Outside medical experts who reviewed the original plan had raised several questions, the institute said, including concerns that "the draft document could be misinterpreted or misapplied, hindering rather than furthering progress in addressing WTC health concerns."
The collapse of the twin towers sent thick plumes of concrete dust, fiberglass, asbestos and lead into the air in Lower Manhattan. The tainted air was taken in by thousands of workers at Ground Zero in the weeks after the terrorist attack, which killed about 2,750 people in New York.
The work has continued despite calls from some family members of victims to halt construction. A search for human remains continues in the area after more than 200 bones were found recently in manholes on the site's western edge.
John Cahill, chief of staff for Gov. George E. Pataki (R), said that the city needs to be sensitive to victims' families but that "it is time to build this site."