The levels of pollutants spewed into the air over New York City following the Sep. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center exceeded even those of burning oil wells during the Gulf War, according to a new study released yesterday by scientists from the University of California at Davis. The study, which was the most thorough analysis of the dust and smoke following the attacks, found elevated levels of sulfur, silicon, titanium, vanadium, and nickel — all in very fine particles that can contribute to a range of health problems, including emphysema. The findings bolster support for allegations by some New York legislators that U.S. EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman misled New Yorkers by reassuring them that the air was “safe to breathe” one week after the attacks. They may also help the case of some 1,300 people who plan to sue the city this week for injuries, health problems, and damages stemming from alleged negligence during the post-attack recovery and cleanup.

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