Environmental Research on 9/11 Tragedy Preserved in Library of Congress

Interior view of the Library of Congress, with large white pillars and ornamental ceiling.

ALBANY, N.Y (July 29, 2021) – The first-hand account of a School of Public Health professor’s response to the environmental health issues associated with the World Trade Center attack is now being preserved by the Library of Congress.

Research Associate Professor Lloyd Wilson worked closely with the New York State Department of Health on environmental issues following 9/11 and the concurrent anthrax attacks. His air sampling work indicated that there were elevated levels of chemicals such as benzene in the air surrounding the site, which he explained could be harmful to inhale regularly.

Wilson’s work was collected by the World Trade Center Oral History Project, started in 2010 by the Stony Book Clinical Center of Excellence (CCE) of the World Trade Center Health Program to preserve the stories of World Trade Center responders, survivors, and their family members. Over the past 11 years, over 400 interviews have been collected that detail the days, weeks, and months that followed the World Trade Center tragedy as well as the long-term implications.

Ali Pellecchia, Research Program Coordinator for the Stony Brook CCE and online MPH student at UAlbany, heard Wilson’s story when she took his Introduction to Environmental Health course in the summer of 2020 students.

“While I had heard many powerful stories from family members, survivors and responders, I had never heard something from a scientific perspective,” said Pellecchia. “Knowing of Dr. Wilson's experiences surveying air quality so soon after the attacks, I believed his contribution to the project would be invaluable in understanding the viewpoint of those assessing environmental impacts during that time.”

Preserved in the Library of Congress, Wilson’s story will be available for future generations to better understand the World Trade Center tragedy.

"When they watch my interview, I hope people remember how good humans can be versus the evil exhibited by the terrorists that attacked the World Trade Center," said Wilson. "A career in public health can take one into many unexpected areas including the unimaginable such as 9/11. The one commonality in all of my experiences was that many good people unselfishly step up to meet the challenges."