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Exposed to deadly chemicals

By Monique Jeanne Dols | November 2, 2001 | Page 2

Thousands of people who work at the site of the World Trade Center are exposed every day to deadly chemicals. According to government documents, the downtown section of Manhattan has levels of benzene, dioxins, PCBs and lead that far exceed federal standards.

"I'm most concerned about the soup effect of these chemicals," Monoma Rosensol, of the Environmental Law and Justice Project, told the New York Daily News. "No one's worrying about the combination of these things on the workers."

In the face of mounting unemployment, thousands of workers are taking jobs in the cleanup effort despite unsafe conditions. The workers most vulnerable to mistreatment are undocumented workers who handle asbestos inside Ground Zero.

Each morning at 7 a.m., hundreds of immigrants workers--including many who lost their jobs in the September 11 attack--line up at the corner of Broadway and Fulton to be put to work without the proper protective gear.

"They come to work in the same clothes that they wear in the subway, and they go back and contaminate everyone in the subway, their children and their wives," Ernesto, a union worker, told Socialist Worker.

But the sick truth is that there's money to be made. Contracting companies are receiving $20 to $25 an hour for each worker that they employ. If the companies can pay an undocumented worker $10 an hour, they pocket the rest.

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