As this week marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, we look at an enraging new documentary, “9/11’s Unsettled Dust,” on the impact of the toxic, cancer-causing smoke and dust that hung over ground zero and how the Environmental Protection Agency put Wall Street’s interests before public health and told people the air was safe to breathe. One of the key figures in the film is Democracy Now! co-host Juan González, who was among the first to expose the public health and environmental crisis at ground zero in a series of reports for the New York Daily News. He says the intense backlash from the mayor’s office and federal officials “cowed” the newspaper, but he has no regrets. “My only mistake was believing that it would take 20 years for people to get sick,” González says. “It took about five years for the deaths and the severe illnesses to really become apparent.” Director Lisa Katzman says she made the film because she was a resident of Lower Manhattan who saw the attack and its aftermath up close and wanted “to address the lack of accountability” from city and federal officials. “The same people that were always touting ‘Never forget! Never forget!’ and constantly reminding us of the heroism of these responders were unwilling to do anything to actually help them,” notes Katzman.
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