Why don't we hear about ugly diseases in the WTC wreckage?

It’s been over a month now - why aren’t there cholera/plague/typhoid/some other disease outbreaks @ ground zero? There’s a lot of dead rotting stuff in that pile, which usually cause disease.

Because the crews working the area are being very careful.

Even with the bacterial contamination, you do not immediately get disease. It is unlikely that any of the victims were already suffering from Typhoid or Cholera, so there would not be any of those germs in the rubble.
If rain was filtering through the wreckage and contaminating a water supply, then there would likely be serious problems with contaminated water. However, New York does not generally take its drinking water from New York Harbor (and has used various water-purifying processes for a great many years, already).

Had the attack occurred in the Spring, it is possible that nearby beaches would have had to have been closed (depending on the amount of run-off that is actually occurring), but as long as the workers are being careful, there should not be any outbreak of disease from this incident.

Didn’t the fires pretty much destroy most “things?” I suspect that the rescuers are wearing protective masks, gloves, etc.

The last time there was deadly flooding in Bangladesh, I remember hearing about a UN report that said the health threat from decaying bodies was vastly overrated, even when the bodies were decaying in drinking water. Contamination from sewage/fecal matter and industrial chemicals were much more serious threats to the water supply.

(BTW, I don’t know about typhoid or cholera, but plague bacteria are not found in dead bodies…they’re found in live fleas and the things those fleas bite.)

Most people did not die from being burned to death. Most people died of being crushed to death. Some undoubtedly suffocated/died of smoke inhalation/particulate inhalation.

tomndebb is correct in his assertions.

Whoops, I was thinking of the recent earthquakes in Turkey, not Bangladesh. Here’s a quote from a Guardian news article re: the health threat from dead bodies:

"‘It is deeply imbedded in mankind to think that a dead body induces diseases in those alive,’ said Michel Thieren, of the World Health Organization.

But it is the lack of clean water, lavatories and medical care that could lead to things like diarrhoea, skin disease and respiratory infections, WHO said, calling the danger from dead bodies ‘negligible.’"

Ignorant question -

I saw somewhere that they don’t think most of the bodies will ever be found. They said that the pressure of the towers collapsing on a human body would more or less vaporize them.

Any truth to that?

Yes. Unfortunately, the sad fact is that the site contains fairly little biological matter relative to the number of people killed.

The police department is undertaking a program of filling small wooden urns with ash/dust from the site to deliver to families of the deceased.

Ignorant followup -

Really? You mean that biological material actually turns to vapor and therefore becomes airbourne?

While we’re on the subject of WTC, has anyone got a rough idea of what %age of rubble has been shifted to date?

PLEASE excuse the HTML-style <hijack> tags in that post. My sense of humour is not that twisted; it was force of habit, that’s all. I was mortified when I saw it in context.


I heard an NPR report from Freshkills that said that about 1/3 of the total mass had been mved there already.

that’s “mass” as in “great big pile of stuff”, not as in “amount of matter” measured in mg, g, kg, etc…

While there are very few HIGHLY credible reports from ground zero (and, frankly, I don’t think the public will be told about what the real state of affairs was down there until decades have passed), there were many reports from people on-site just before the collapse that a lot of the bodies of the jumpers pretty much vaporized upon impact. But, as with every story from down there, take it with a grain of salt.

I would attribute those observations to hyperbole brought on by the horror of the event. We lose a couple of sport parachutists every year or so–some landing on airport runways–from much higher altitudes than the WTC, and their bodies do not vaporize.

A body caught in the midst of hundreds of thousands of tons of disintegrating construction material will very likely be pulverized and mixed thoroughly with the (now powdered) concrete and plaster and gypsum. If “vaporized” is the word being used to describe that pulverizing and mixing action, it would not be my choice for a verb, but I can go along with it. The idea that a body falling by itself will be vaporized on impact is rather less credible.

I saw a news report(no cite) that was talking about the possible dangers of breathing the dust thrown out from the collapse. In that report they talked about traces of marble from the floors turning up in dust. If marble can be turned to dust then I’m afraid the poor people …
It not something I want to dwell on. :frowning:

You asked for disease? You got it:


Uh, toxins aren’t diseases.

Uh, did you READ the entire article?:slight_smile:

I see your point, assuming benzene = leukemia and asbestos = lung cancer.

Commercial Jet A fuel has a high concentration of benzene in it… I would not be at all surprised to find high levels at a site where two fully fueled jumbo jets crashed.

What’s bad and nobody talks about is the SMELL. Average a human at 150 lbs x 6000 … four hundred fifty tons of pulverized meat are rotting in the autumn sunshine. We should hope for enough jet fuel to mask the stench.