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Entries in New York City (16)

Thursday
Nov012012

NY Fertility Clinic Saves Embryos from Hurricane Sandy

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Among all the rescues carried out during the chaos caused by Hurricane Sandy, the most delicate was the mission to save embryos in rows of incubators that were in jeopardy when the NYU Fertility Clinic lost its power.

The Manhattan clinic lost power shortly after Sandy struck Monday night.  A generator perched atop the 8-story building kept incubators running through the night, but flooding in the basement cut off its fuel supply.

"The generator ran out of gas around 8:15 Tuesday morning," said Dr. James Grifo, the clinic's director.

Without power, rows of incubators housing delicate embryos at womb-temperature for in vitro fertilization began to cool.  But Grifo and his team took action, hoisting five-gallon cans of diesel fuel up darkened stairwells to feed the failing generator.

"It was really a privilege to be part of that," Grifo said of his staff's "heroic" efforts.

The fuel bought the team enough time to transfer the embryos into liquid nitrogen, where they can be stored indefinitely.

The embryos were secured as another urgent issue arose.  At 10 a.m., a patient arrived for an egg retrieval -- a surgical procedure timed down to the hour after a two-week run of expensive fertility drugs.

Grifo loaded the woman into his car, along with her husband and their baby, and rushed them to a colleague's clinic uptown.

"It's amazing what people can do when everyone's on the same page," Grifo said, adding that the rest of the clinic's patients were booked into clinics throughout the city to "salvage" their cycles.

"It's a testament to the people in New York who work in medicine," he added.  "Some of our most vicious competitors offered assistance."

Sandy spawned record-breaking tides around lower Manhattan, prompting power outages from East 39th Street to Battery Park at the southern tip of the island.  The NYU Fertility Center is on First Avenue and 38th street, just a block from the overflowing East River.

The storm forced NYU Langone Medical Center to evacuate 300 patients in gusts of wind topping 70 miles per hour.  Cells, tissues and animals used for medical research were left to die in failing refrigerators, freezers and incubators.

But thanks to Grifo and his team, eggs and embryos were spared.

"Hopefully we'll get some babies out of it, and that'll be a nice story as well," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct312012

New York City's Bellevue Hospital Forced to Evacuate Patients After Sandy

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New York City's Bellevue Hospital Center has evacuated hundreds of patients to other hospitals, according to city officials, making it the latest hospital in the city forced to transfer patients after damage from Superstorm Sandy.

The evacuations from Bellevue -- perhaps the best known of the 11 hospitals that make up New York City's public hospital system -- followed others from NYU Langone Medical Center on Monday and Coney Island Hospital on Tuesday.

When Sandy hit the New York area Monday night, Bellevue, located on 1st Avenue and 27th Street in flood-stricken Lower Manhattan, almost lost its generators. At least one got repaired just in time to stave off an evacuation, but it's been difficult to keep the hospital going.

Bellevue and its remaining patients have been struggling along in the aftermath of Sandy with failing power, partially lighted halls and no computers, making it difficult to locate patients within the facility, hospital staff told ABC News Wednesday.

Similar conditions existed at Metropolitan Hospital, another city hospital that was running on backup generator power. That hospital is located on 1st Avenue and East 97th Street in Manhattan.

For two days, the Bellevue staff and the city have been poised for an eventual evacuation, and that time now seems to have come, along with another quest for beds.

"We learned this morning that Bellevue will now have to evacuate because of damage that it has sustained," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters. "They didn't think the damage was that bad, and we did have a generator going, and the National Guard helped carry fuel up to the roof, because that's where the fuel tank was and they were running out."

"But the bottom line is that when they got into the basement they realized there was more damage," Bloomberg added. "It's going to affect something like 500 patients. They had already discharged patients that didn't require critical care. We are in the process of finding beds to move these patients to now and I want to thank the greater New York hospital association for their help in the process of relocating patients."

The Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood further uptown told ABC News it would be accepting some of Bellevue's patients. The patients likely will be received at the Mount Sinai's emergency room.

Earlier, when Mount Sinai could no longer reach anyone at Bellevue, it sent a medical team of eight to Bellevue, a Mount Sinai spokesman told ABC News. When the group arrived, two cardiac physicians told the Mount Sinai team they had two very serious patients that needed help. Both of those patients were to be moved to Mount Sinai, along with other patients.

On Wednesday, Bellevue nurses could be seen walking up and down stairs with food trays and medicine. Some had to hike to the 17th floor, where some patients have "serious conditions."

Up and down the stairs, the evacuation of patients was under way. The highest floor patients had to be carried from was the 18th floor, New York City Health and Hospital Corporation President Alan Aviles told reporters Wednesday evening.

The National Guard was instrumental in carrying fuel up to the hospital's rooftop generator and patients down the stairs, Aviles said.

Police were stationed throughout Bellevue, and were limiting visitors' access to the main lobby entrance unless they were there to see family members.

On Monday night, patients were evacuated from New York University Langone Medical Center. A stream of ambulances evacuated patients from the hospital after backup generators failed following a power outage, city officials said.

NYU Langone Medical Center spokesman Christopher Rucas told ABC News Tuesday that more than 300 patients had been safely moved out of the hospital and transferred to surrounding institutions. Dozens of these were critical care patients, city officials said.

On Tuesday, Coney Island Hospital, at the tip of Brooklyn, was evacuated. Although one of its generators was still puttering along, another had long been underwater, and officials were reluctant to leave patients in such precarious conditions.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct302012

Backup Generator Fails; NYU Medical Center Evacuated

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Paramedics and other medical workers began to evacuate patients from New York University Langone Medical Center due to a power outage caused by Tropical Storm Sandy, followed by a failure of backup generators at the hospital, New York City officials said Monday night.

About 200 patients, roughly 45 of whom are critical care patients, were moved out of NYU via private ambulance with the assistance of the New York Fire Department, city officials said. ABC News' Chris Murphey reported a long line of ambulances outside of NYU Langone waiting to transport patients to other hospitals in the city.

The hospital had a total of 800 patients two days ago, some patients were discharged before Monday night's evacuation, which was described by emergency management officials as "a total evacuation."

According to ABC's Josh Haskell, 24 ambulances lined the street, waiting to be waved in to pick up patients from NYU Lagone Medical Center. "Every four minutes a patient comes out and an empty ambulance pulls up. The lobby of the Medical Center is full of hospital personnel, family members, and patients," Haskell reports.

The patients were moved to a number of area hospitals and according to officials at NYU, the receiving hospitals would notify family members.

Sloan Kettering Hospital spokesman Chris Hickey confirmed to ABC News' Gitika Ahuja that it is receiving 26 adult patients from NYU, at their request. Hickey said she didn't know whether they had been admitted yet or what their conditions were.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital spokesman Wade Bryan Dotson said it is also accepting patients from NYU at both campuses, Columbia and Weill Cornell.

Meanwhile, ABC News affiliate WABC captured footage of patients being evacuated; among the first patients brought out of the hospital on gurneys was a mother and her newborn child.

On Monday morning, NYU Langone Medical Center had issued a press release that indicated the hospital's emergency preparedness plan had been activated and that there were "no plans to evacuate" at the time.

Shortly after the reports of an evacuation at NYU Langone, city officials reported that a second major New York City hospital, Bellevue Hospital, was about to lose backup power due to a generator failure.

Requests for more information from NYU Langone Medical Center spokespeople were not immediately returned.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct112012

Lead Found in Eggs Laid by Chickens in New York City Gardens

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The discovery of lead in some city-raised eggs is ruffling feathers among public health experts.

An ongoing study by the New York State Department of Health found eggs raised in urban neighborhood gardens contained levels of lead significantly higher than those seen in store-bought eggs.  The lead is thought to come from contaminated soil eaten by city-dwelling chickens.

"Because we feel it's important to reduce lead exposure wherever possible, we encourage chicken keepers to be aware of the potential risks associated with contaminated soil and take measures to minimize those risks, while at the same time recognizing that raising chickens can be a healthy activity," said Henry Spliethoff, a research scientist with the Department's Bureau of Toxic Substance Assessment.

Lead exposure in children is linked to low IQ later in life. And lead poisoning in people of all ages can cause difficulty sleeping, headaches, seizures and even comas. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has no limit for acceptable lead exposure in eggs, but in 2005 set a limit of 100 parts per billion for candy consumed by children.

Spliethoff and colleagues tested 58 eggs raised in community gardens around New York City and found nearly half contained lead levels between 10 and 73 parts per billion.  One egg had levels exceeding 100 parts per billion.

"We were encouraged to find that all the eggs had lead levels were below the guidance value except for one," said Spliethoff.  "Eggs with lead levels below that guidance value -- even with a fairly egg-heavy diet -- are probably OK."

But some experts say no level of lead in food is safe.

"There's virtually no level at which we can assume lead is not dangerous," said Dr. John Rosner, a professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

Rosner, who co-authored the 2002 book Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution, said lead levels in urban neighborhoods have been "a contentious issue for a very long time."

"The problem is that we've never been willing to confront this issue head on," he said, describing how old buildings with leaded paint were demolished rather than detoxified.  "It just continues to haunt us."

While the New York study is ongoing, Spliethoff said urban farmers should be aware of their soil's lead levels and make efforts to minimize their chickens' exposure by building separate chicken runs, putting food in a feeder and laying down extra mulch or soil.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep132012

NYC Approves Ritual Circumcision Consent Form

David De Lossy/Digital Vision(WASHINGTON) -- After the deaths of two children who contracted the herpes virus through an ultra-orthodox practice of circumcision, the New York City Board of Health voted today to require parents to sign a written consent that warns them of the dangers.

In the most contentious part of the Jewish ritual, known as metzitzah b’peh, the practitioner, or mohel, places his mouth around the baby’s penis to suck the blood to “cleanse” the wound. The city wants parents to know the risks before circumcision.

Some estimate that 70 percent of the general population is infected with the Type 1 herpes I (HSV-1), which can be transmitted from the mouth to the child.  It is different from Type 2 or genital herpes (HSV-2), which is a sexually transmitted disease and can cause deadly infections when a newborn passes through an infected birth canal.

Neonatal herpes infections are nearly always fatal in infants.

The 5,000-year-old religious practice of circumcision, performed during a ceremony known as the bris, is seen primarily in ultra-Orthodox and some orthodox communities. New York has one of the largest such communities in the country.

In 2003 and 2004, three babies, including a set of twins, were infected with Type 1 herpes; the cases were linked to circumcision, and one boy died. Another died in 2010. In the last decade, 11 babies in the city have contracted the virus, and two have had brain damage, according to health officials.

Dr. Jay K. Varma, the New York City deputy commissioner for disease control, told the New York Times, “There is no safe way to perform oral suction on an open wound in a newborn.”

But some rabbis have said that they will oppose the law on religious grounds, insisting it has been performed “tens of thousands of times a year” worldwide. They say safeguarding the life of a child is one of the religion’s highest principles.

“This is the government forcing a rabbi practicing a religious ritual to tell his congregants it could hurt their child,” Rabbi David Niederman, executive director of the United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg, told ABC News. “If, God forbid, there was a danger, we would be the first to stop the practice.”

But Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, told ABC News during the investigation of one of the deaths last spring, “It’s certainly not something any of us recommend in the modern infection-control era.”

“This is a ritual of historic Abraham that’s come down through the ages, and now it has met modern science,” he said. “It was never a good idea, and there is a better way to do this.”

The modern Jewish community uses a sterile aspiration device or pipette to clean the wound in a circumcision.

About two-thirds of boys born in New York City’s Hasidic communities are circumcised in the oral suction manner, according to Rabbi David Zwiebel, executive vice president of the Orthodox Jewish organization Agudath Israel of America.

The Department of Health argues parents should be informed of the risks before making a decision. Since 2004, it has received “multiple complaints from parents who were not aware that direct oral suction was going to be performed as part of their sons’ circumcisions,” according to a public notice.

The law requires mohels to explain the oral suction procedure and its risks, including the possible transmission of herpes simplex virus, and have parents sign a waiver.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug162012

Who’s Your Daddy? Mobile Truck Offers DNA Tests to Go

WABC(NEW YORK) -- In what may be a first anywhere, a “Who’s Your Daddy” truck is cruising New York City selling DNA tests to people who want to confirm their child’s paternity or even whether their parents are biologically related to them.

The brown and white RV, which is bedecked in eye-catching signs advertising its services, is more than just a moving billboard, according to driver and operator Jared Rosenthal. “The RV is set up to be a drug testing clinic and a DNA testing clinic,” he told ABC News. “It’s essentially a mobile office so while we’re working people will walk up and ask questions and sometimes even take a test right on board.”

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Rosenthal, who works at mobile and clinic based testing company Health Street, came up with the idea for the truck himself. "Necessity is the mother of invention,” he said. "I couldn’t afford to rent an office, so I thought, we can convert the RV to a mobile office. People love the artwork -- it makes them smile and they share it with their friends on social media and get in touch with people who maybe do need DNA tests.”

But it’s not all smiles aboard the Who’s Your Daddy Truck, which often plays host to the full spectrum of human emotions. “DNA really gets at a person’s identity, it gets to the core of their identity, who your parents are, who your children are, how you define yourself ethnically and culturally.” Rosenthal said, “The RV is a little more intimate than a clinic, clients tend to talk more. They tell us things, we experience some of these life-changing moments with them.”

Rosenthal brought up the story of one woman in her early 20s who came in for a test, only to find out that the people she believed to be her father and her three half-sisters was not related to her at all. In fact, the test revealed she was from an entirely different ethnic background. “When she found out her father wasn’t her biological father it totally rocked her identity to the core,” he said.

He recounted meeting an 18-year-old woman from another state who had contacted the man she believed to be her father living in New York. A DNA test at the truck proved it was true, bringing a broken family back together. “He began to form a relationship with this woman and it was great.” Rosenthal said. “They lost 18 years but they found each other.”

Drama aside, Rosenthal insists that the truck is much more than a mobile Maury (paternity testing is a common topic associated with the talk show hosted by Maury Povich), providing a service that is “very approachable, very accessible, and very available to the community.”

The DNA, drug, and alcohol tests, which range in price from $79 to $599 are available at the truck or at local health street clinics. Although based in New York, the organization has partnered with out-of-state clinics and the U.S. Consulate to provide testing in the event that one or more of the parties may live out of the state or country.

For more information on the Who’s Your Daddy Truck and Health Street visit their website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug162012

Mount Sinai Hospital Sued for Sex Discrimination

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A fired hospital technician claims she was the victim of sexist and anti-Semitic taunts while working at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

Sandra Morris, 37, has sued the Manhattan medical center and two of her former supervisors for creating a hostile work environment, according to a lawsuit filed July 31 in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

"Miss Morris experienced mistreatment in the workplace that no employee should have to experience," said Morris' lawyer, Steven Warshawsky. "She's bringing this lawsuit to vindicate her legal rights and to ensure other employees are not subjected to same type of misconduct."

Morris worked as a cardiovascular perfusionist at Mount Sinai for nearly five years, during which times she claims her supervisors, cardiovascular perfusionist Ahmed Cercioglu and cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Ricardo Lazala, discriminated against her because of her gender and religion.

According to the suit, Morris "was told several times by Mr. Lazala and Mr. Cercioglu that she cannot work on [some] cases because she doesn't have a 'dick.'" And in July 2010, Cercioglu allegedly called Morris a "dumb Jew bitch" in front of other employees.

"Many of the incidents and issues alleged in the complaint were witnessed by other employees," said Warshawsky, adding that "several" co-workers would be called as witnesses in the case.

The suit also accuses Cercioglu of watching X-rated movies on his cell phone while operating the heart-lung machine – a pump that keeps heart patients alive during bypass surgery.

"This was so commonplace that other perfusionists routinely joked about his behavior," according to the suit.

Calls to Cercioglu and Lazala were not immediately returned. A spokesman for Mount Sinai declined to comment on the allegations because of the pending litigation, but said in a statement that the hospital "maintains strong policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment in the workplace and does not tolerate behavior that violates these policies. Mount Sinai is confident that Ms. Morris will not prevail on her claims."

Morris also claims she was paid less than what she was owed for overtime work, and is requesting back pay, compensatory damages for emotional pain and suffering and attorney's fees. She is not challenging the hospital's decision to terminate her employment, which came as no surprise after six months of unpaid leave for an on-the-job injury, according to Warshawsky.

"That's not the issue in this case," he said. "The issue is workplace mistreatment and mismanagement."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May022012

'Remarkable Recovery': NYC Police Officer Stabbed in Head Leaves Hospital

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A New York City police officer who was stabbed in the head with a 3.5-inch blade last month left the hospital Wednesday.

Officer Eder Loor was responding to a 911 call in East Harlem on April 17 when an emotionally disturbed man stabbed him through the skull and slashed his neck and face. Loor was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital with bleeding in the brain.

"I'm happy to be alive," Loor told a packed room of reporters Wednesday. "I'm still not normal, but it's great that they helped me out so far. Thank you everybody."

The 28-year-old police officer was surrounded by the medical team, whom he credits with saving his life, and his pregnant wife, Dina Loor, who revealed that Wednesday was their daughter's fifth birthday.

"That's all she wanted for her gift," Dina Loor said through tears. "We just thank God for giving us a second chance at life together."

Dr. Joshua Bederson, the neurosurgeon who treated Loor at Mount Sinai Hospital, told ABC News at the time of the attack, "He was fortunate because the knife entered in the Sylvian fissure."

The fissure, Bederson explained, was a crevice between the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, resembling the crack between two couch cushions. If the knife had entered at a different angle, the bleeding would have killed him, said Bederson.

"This recovery was about as remarkable as they come," said Bederson.

Dr. Kristjan Ragnarsson, a neuropsychologist has been working with Loor to restore his sensory deficits. Loor will begin physical therapy next week to improve his walking.

The suspect, 26-year-old Terrance Hale, has been charged with attempted aggravated murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon. At the time of the attack, Hale was living with his mother, who'd placed the emergency call, explaining that her son was bipolar and off his meds and needed to be taken to a psychiatric hospital, according to authorities.

Hale remains in custody at this time.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec152011

Elevator Death Can Trigger Fear in Phobics

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Brian Davidson, a school administrator from New Jersey, knows what it's like to be trapped in an elevator that suddenly jerks and stops, as riders begin to sweat, and an unspoken panic rises. He was riding shoulder-to-shoulder with 34 other jurors at the Trenton courthouse a couple of years ago when they got stuck between the third and fourth floors. "Even the guard who was escorting us didn't know what to do," said Davidson, 52.

Worst of all, the jurors had been told, "for safety reasons," not to bring their cellphones with them. "People started to panic, and when one person called for help, she literally picked up the receiver and the chord was hanging," he said. "It wasn't connected.

"It was amazing how quickly the fear spread and people were definitely breathing heavily and you could hear the tension rising in their voices," he said. "I was doing my best to stretch my head above the crowd to stay calm. But you could feel the fear."

With recent events, riders have reason to fear elevators, which can evoke claustrophobia, even when they work properly. This week, 41-year-old Suzanne Hart, an advertising executive at New York City's Young & Rubicam, was crushed to death when she stepped into a Madison Avenue elevator as the door closed in on her and dragged her upward between the elevator and the shaft. In the aftermath of the accident, the two other passengers were treated for trauma.

"You really felt for the victim," said Davidson, who was eventually rescued after about 10 long minutes. "Talk about, 'There for the grace of God go I.' There were no warning signs and the people who were trapped had to deal with the horror of knowing that that poor person would not survive."

Experts say most people do not develop phobias after one traumatic event.

About 8 percent of the population -- or about 25 million Americans -- suffer from phobias, according to Dr. Todd Farchione, director of the intensive treatment program at the Center for Anxiety-Related Disorders at Boston University. Only about 2 percent have situational-specific phobias, such as fear of elevators or related claustrophobia.

"Phobias, in general, are an irrational fear of a situation or object," he said. "And it has to be interfering in a person's life and distressing to the individual separate from standard fears."

The two New Yorkers who witnessed Hart's death likely suffered from post-traumatic stress, according to Farchione, and would not necessarily go on to develop a phobia of elevators.

But some do go on to have a fear after trauma. "We learn to be afraid of things," he said. "You are bit by a dog and associate the pain and fear with the dog. Some develop phobia without trauma. You see someone else afraid of something, like an image of a housewife on a table when a mouse is in the room. You might develop a fear of mice."

People can also be "bombarded" with information and develop phobias. "The story about the elevator trapping and killing someone is such a rare event, but what we see is sensational," he said. "You can inflate the likelihood of those things happening."

Phobias present themselves as panic attacks, as Davidson described when he was trapped in a crowded elevator.

Farchione said the "fear reaction is accompanied by physical feelings like sweating, rapid heart rate, shakiness, feeling out of body and light-headed. It's primarily driven by how we breathe in the rush of fear."

No one dies of a panic attack, he said, and cognitive behavioral therapies are 80 to 90 percent effective. "You gradually confront the things you are afraid of," he said.

As for Davidson, he admits he is not totally comfortable with elevators, especially because he was trapped twice again at a prestigious department store in New York City, where facilities can be older.

Records for the Madison Avenue property showed 56 violations of New York City's building code involving some of the building's 13 elevators, dating back to 2001. The last citation occurred in 2009, and all of the complaints are listed as resolved by the city Buildings Department.

ConsumerWatch.com reports that about 27 people are killed in elevator accidents per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. About 10,000 people every year are injured because of elevators.

Davidson was rescued after a grueling 10 minutes. One woman on the elevator whipped out her cellphone, and although she was scolded by the guard, the call went through to security. Officials were able to pry the doors open and all stepped out for their day in court.

"But it still makes me nervous," he said. "Especially if I am in a big elevator with a lot of people in a crowded office building."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep082011

How Toxic Was the 9/11 Dust Cloud?

Anthony Correia/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Among the lasting images of 9/11 are those of nearly everyone and everything in the immediate vicinity of the World Trade Center covered in thick dust.

As that dust settled, health officials and scientists sought to figure out what was in it, and what the health effects of it could be.

"The dust is something we had never seen before," said Paul Lioy, director of exposure science at Rutgers University and UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and author of Dust: The Inside Story of its Role in the September 11th Aftermath.  "It was caused by the collapse and disintegration of two very large structures."

The federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey asked Lioy to collect and analyze samples of the dust and what the possible health consequences could be.  Analysis showed that the substances in the dust included cement, gypsum, asbestos, glass fibers, calcium carbonate, lead and other metal particles.

The pH of the dust was very high, meaning it was highly alkaline.

"That means it's extremely caustic and would be like inhaling powdered lye or Drano," said Dr. Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

The toxicity of the dust had a significant impact on the health of many first responders who were present, and those effects were especially severe among people exposed to the dust on the first day and for an extended period of time.  Research done at Mount Sinai in 2009 found that about eight percent of men and women who helped with rescue and recovery, or took part in other work at the site, reported asthma attacks.  Normally, only about four percent of the population suffers from asthma.

The New York City Department of Health said asthma risk was also increased for people who lived and worked in lower Manhattan after 9/11.

Lead and other heavy metals can be toxic to the brain, and gypsum, a component of drywall, can cause respiratory problems if it's inhaled over a prolonged period of time.  But Landrigan said two of the substances -- cement dust and asbestos -- are the most harmful.

Cement dust made up about two thirds of the overall dust, which contributed to its high alkalinity.  The effects of asbestos wouldn't be felt right away, but could become evident in the next few years.

"Asbestos is a human carcinogen," Landrigan explained.  "It causes lung cancer, laryngeal cancers and malignant mesothelioma, and these typically develop anywhere from 10 to 30 years after exposure."

While the dust was highly toxic, Lioy said it's impossible to say which specific substances contributed to the health problems since it was a mixture of things and the effects of gases couldn't be taken into account.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio