Dust to Dust: The Health Effects of 9/11

by | Nov 8, 2010 | ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT, Featured, thrive! Cinema | 0 comments




Watch the full documentary right now.


Dust to Dust: The Health Effects of 9/11This powerful documentary investigates our government’s criminal mishandling of 9/11 and what the long-term health consequences have been for the workers and local residents in the area since the attacks. Filmmaker Heidi Dehncke-Fisher and producer Bruce Kennedy reveal the far-reaching health effects of 9/11, making a strong case that the EPA’s reassurance to the public that the air around Ground Zero was safe to breathe, live and work in just days after September 11, 2001 was based on White House policy, and not science.

Five to ten years after the tragic incident, many of the first-responders who risked their lives to help recover victims from the scene are now seriously ill, dying, or dead. Most of the workers were not given appropriate respirator masks to protect them from the chemical soup they were working in. It was months after the attacks before any systematic decontamination procedure was put into place, so workers were tracking home toxic contaminants in their clothes and cars. There were no efforts to make Ground Zero safe for workers once it was clear there were no survivors – the fires were left smoldering until December of that year, with about 5,000 people working on the site each day.

Dust to Dust: The Health Effects of 9/11The film shines light on the fact that “You cannot find what you don’t look for,” referring to the fact that the EPA only tested ten ambient air samples by 9/13, and the samples only tested for certain toxic chemicals. The reality is that the pulverized contents of both buildings released tons of toxic chemicals and heavy metals into the air, including asbestos, benzene, mercury, lead, cadmium, PCBs, and crystalline silica. Within a month or so, workers, local residents and school children who were encouraged to go back to the area were experiencing asthma, nose bleeds, pneumonia, respiratory distress, sinusitis, nasal congestion, reactive airway disease, chemical sensitivities, gastro-esophageal reflux disease, heart problems, and other health issues. People were brought back into contaminated spaces that were covered with toxic dust, and not given proper instructions on how to clean it without putting themselves at further risk.

As someone who was in NYC on 9/11 and lived close enough to Ground Zero to have experienced the horrible air quality for months following the event, I found the film to be eye-opening. I have suffered with reactive airway disease since 9/11 myself, and I now worry about possible exposure to asbestos. This is a sobering look at the importance of air quality and the unfortunate long-term effects of trusting government officials and ignoring common sense and first-hand experience.


  • Earthwalker is the username that PT founder Julie Genser created for her online interactions so many years ago when first creating Planet Thrive.

    Julie's (Earthwalker's) life was derailed over twenty years ago when she had a very large organic mercury exposure after she naively used a mouth thermometer to measure the temperature of just-boiled milk while making her very first pizza at home. The mercury instantly expanded into a gas form and exploded out the back of the thermometer right into her face. Unaware that mercury was the third most neurotoxic element on Earth, Julie had no idea she had just received a very high dose of a poisonous substance.

    A series of subsequent toxic exposures over the next few years -- to smoke from two fires (including 9/11), toxic mold, lyme disease, and chemical injuries -- caused catastrophic damage to her health. While figuring out how to survive day-to-day, and often minute-to-minute, she created Planet Thrive to help others avoid some of the misdiagnoses and struggles she had experienced.

    She has clawed her way over many health mountains to get to where she is today. She is excited to bring the latest iteration of Planet Thrive to the chronic illness community.

    In 2019, Julie published her very first cookbook e-book called Low Lectin Lunches (+ Dinners, Too!) after discovering how a low lectin, gluten free diet was helping manage her chronic fascia/muscle pain.

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