The U.S. EPA assured New Yorkers that the smoky, dusty air around Ground Zero was safe to breathe in the days immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but an independent federal investigation has found plenty of evidence to the contrary. In making its claims, the EPA assumed a cancer risk level 100 times greater than what is normally considered “acceptable” for public exposure to toxic air pollutants, investigators from the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General found. More than 50 percent of Ground Zero workers given health screenings almost one year after the attack continued to suffer from lung, nose, throat, and ear ailments, according to a recent study by the Mount Sinai Medical Center. Investigators are also looking into evidence that the White House dictated much of the content of EPA press releases in the wake of 9/11.