9/11's Unsettled Dust
Examines the government's cover up of toxic conditions and public health failure
after 9/11, and portrays the epic battle fought by sick and dying 9/11 responders for healthcare.
Directed by Lisa Katzman
Executive Producers: Eric Overmyer, Charles Burnett
Director of Photograohy: Alex Rappoport
Editors: Lisa Katzman, Paul Hill, Kaitlin Gleason
Writer: Lisa Katzman
Music: David Goldman, Scott Johnson, Rubin Kodheli, Sal Bernardi
A Pomegranate Production
9/11 — the gravest attack on American soil — was also an unprecedented environmental disaster and the fulcrum for a public health crisis that continues today.
"Documents with a blunt and infuriating precision the long campaign of silence and deceit that betrayed [the first responders]." David Simon, Writer/Producer, The Wire
9/11's UNSETTLED DUST examines the failure of federal and city officials to tell the truth about air contamination in New York City following the destruction of the twin towers and to protect public health. It is the story of the deadly illnesses that resulted from this deception, and of the epic battle fought by 9/11 responders and survivors to pass the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act. This was achieved on a temporary basis in 2010, permanently in 2015, and finally in 2019, the Victims Compensation Fund was extended until 2090.
While the story 9/11's UNSETTLED DUST tells is tragic, it reveals the immense courage and generosity of tens of thousands of Americans and undocumented immigrant workers who came together at Ground Zero on behalf of the common good, and later, waged a powerful grassroots campaign for health care legislation benefiting 9/11 responders and survivors.
Grade Level: 10 - 12, College Adults
US Release Date: 2021
Copyright Date: 2021
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-71-2
"I remember watching the cloud of toxic dust as it spread over Manhattan on 9/11. I reacted with shock and outrage to the official assurances there was no health risk because, as an environmental expert, I knew that was not true. This film is a necessary correction to history that reminds me of the decade long struggle by Native American uranium miners for compensation. I am left with a question: Why is there so much resistance to taking care of people who give their lives serving their country in working class roles? I urge to you watch and think about that."
Dr. Doug Brugge, Professor and Chair of Public Health Sciences, University of Connecticut
"9/11's Unsettled Dust documents the true character of the 9/11 heroes. The actions of the first responders speaks louder than words. Real heroes always stand for justice to serve and protect all from further harm."
Ali. M. Gheith, Director, Emergency and Disaster Management Program, Metropolitan College of New York
"One of the many tragedies of the 9/11 attacks was the legacy of long-term illness suffered by the first responders who rushed into the toxic environment of the World Trade Center site and the search and rescue crews from across the country who assembled there in the weeks that followed. This film tells the moving and compelling story of how determined citizens lobbied successfully for health care for those workers, who gave so much to their country in a time of great need."
Peter L. Hahn, Professor of History, Ohio State University
"9/11's Unsettled Dust is a comprehensive profile of the sick heroes who fought with their last breaths for recognition of the injuries in the toxic wake of 9/11. The first responders are joined in interviews with key 'second responders' - doctors, journalists, politicians, and environmental public health advocates. Together, they forced the Federal Government to recognize illnesses and fund the sick after a two decade struggle."
Dr. Donna Flayhan, Professor of Communication and Media, SUNY-New Paltz, Director, The Lower Manhattan Public Health Project (2004-2010)
"Much was asked and much was given in the days and months after the destruction of New York's World Trade Center towers. Firefighters, rescue workers, police, engineers, construction workers gathered at Ground Zero and throughout lower Manhattan because they were professionals, because it was their duty, and because they believed what their government told them about their own safety. Lisa Katzman's 9/11's Unsettled Dust documents with a blunt and infuriating precision the long campaign of silence and deceit that betrayed them. These Americans deserved better."
David Simon, television writer and producer, The Wire, Treme, The Deuce
"The sadness, the struggle, the sacrifice, the triumph are all revealed in this remarkable film. The story of September 11th lives on."
Tom Fontana, television writer and producer, Oz, St. Elsewhere, City on a Hill
"On the morning of 9/11 nearly every toxic material I have studied epidemiologically - asbestos, fine dusts, PCBs, dioxins, PAH, mercury and other metals, and more - was released in amounts far beyond those encountered in workplaces or other environments where serious health effects were established long ago. Thousands of responders, workers, and residents were exposed to intense concentrations, and continued to be exposed as cleanup proceeded. It is incomprehensible that anyone - least of all the Administrator of the EPA - could report that there was no concern about possible health risks, especially with foreknowledge that her statements would be amplified and form the basis for policy decisions. 911's Unsettled Dust reminds us that what should have been an obvious public health response required intense grass-roots organizing and pressure to attain this political milestone. A magnificent and moving documentary about the struggle for passage and renewal of the Zadroga Act."
Dr. Steve Stellman, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, Columbia University
"This film captures in shameful detail the devastating betrayal of first responders who fearlessly dove into the clean-up efforts at ground zero. The epic toxicity, utter contamination, and ensuing public health apocalypse shown in stark relief on the wide screen ensured there wasn't a dry eye in the room. As the wife of a first responder in New York City and a public health expert, this is a first rate account of the environmental hazard and occupational risk at an unprecedented scale. We should never forget the lessons learned and this film's renewed call to conscience about the events of 9/11."
Diana Hernandez, Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University
"9/11's Unsettled Dust proves that, just like our military service men and women, deep in the heart of America's police, fire, EMS, and other responders is an unwavering love of country and other Americans. This important and powerful film shows that these heroic man and women not only lacked the proper protective equipment to prevent their exposure to toxins during the lengthy 9/11 clean-up operation, but that critical public health information that could have helped save lives was intentionally kept secret by the government. We send billions of dollars a year in troops and equipment overseas to protect civilians around the world but don't protect our own first responders and citizens at home in the aftermath of toxic disasters. This is a cryin' dame shame. 9/11's Unsettled Dust should be watched by every American citizen and especially government officials so that we truly 'never forget' our 9/11 heroes at home."
Lt. General Russell Honoré,
Commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, Director of the Green Army
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"On September 11th, the U.S. was attacked and in a matter of minutes, the nature of life in the U.S. was rewritten. Twenty years later, this movie emotionally reimagines the responders' heroism for not only facing physically and emotionally damaging work environments, but also in facing lawmakers who were reticent to recognize the human price of that work. Future generations must remember how decisions to risk human life can be made in a moment and then defended and justified later as the true costs are being revealed."
Dr. Sean Clouston, Associate Professor of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine, Stony Brook University
"The film makes a strong case that the Bush administration's EPA and the Giuliani administration failed to protect post-9/11 rescue and clean-up crews from well-known occupational health and safety hazards. Workers did not receive respirators and HAZWOPER gear, despite being exposed to dangerous concentrations of asbestos and toxic chemicals, and many later developed cancer, lung diseases, and other chronic ailments. 9/11's Unsettled Dust demonstrates that a completely unnecessary workplace safety disaster followed the 9/11 attacks, and effectively dramatizes the struggles of the workers and their families for justice."
Josiah Rector, Assistant Professor of History, University of Houston, Author, Toxic Debt: An Environmental Justice History of Detroit