Important front-page article in today's Times applying some skeptical scrutiny where it's been overdue for a while:
Much of what is known about the health problems of ground zero workers comes from a small clinic in Manhattan that at the time of the trade center collapse had only six full-time doctors and a tiny budget....
Since then, the clinic, the Irving J. Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, based at Mount Sinai Medical Center, has examined more than 15,000 workers and volunteers and has overseen the examination of 5,000 more at clinics elsewhere.
Those programs have received more than $100 million from the federal government for tracking and treating those workers. The clinic�s doctors published the largest and most often quoted study of recovery workers� ills. And they have testified about the health problems before city and federal committees.
But six years after the disaster, it is clear that while the center�s efforts have been well meaning, even heroic to some, its performance in a number of important areas has been flawed, some doctors say. ...The clinic�s doctors presented their findings in what other experts say were scientifically questionable ways, exaggerating the health effects with imprecise descriptions of workers� symptoms and how long they might be sick.
Researchers in this field say that the clinic�s data collection was so badly planned that its usefulness may be limited. Others say that doctors at the clinic, which has strong historical ties to labor unions, have allowed their advocacy for workers to trump their science by making statements that go beyond what their studies have confirmed....
While organized labor has steadfastly supported and praised the Selikoff Center�s efforts, other doctors say its missteps have heightened the anxiety of New Yorkers who expected the center to answer medical questions that have unsettled the city since 9/11.