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Observations

Observations

Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

How Valid Are Health Concerns for the Occupy Wall Street Camps?

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Watching the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators march by the offices of Scientific American yesterday got me thinking about health conditions at Zuccotti Park. New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said that "health and safety conditions became intolerable” at the encampment, so he was forced to evict demonstrators and remove their tents and sleeping bags. Hmm. Maybe. There have been reports of protestors coming down with "Zuccotti lung." Of course, just about everyone in New York has colds this time of year.

So I'd like to do a little digging--call up a few folks who run refugee camps and humanitarian disaster sites to see what they do to try to keep those places healthy. If you have a particular expertise on the subject, you can call me at (212) 451-8815.

In the meantime, here is some video I shot yesterday (November 15) with my phone. In it, I ask Laura Newman, a filmmaker who was marching with Occupy Wall Street, about health conditions at Zuccotti Park. For the record, reports of the use of tear gas (to which Newman refers) to clear the park may be mistaken--although some sort of chemical, smoke or pepper spray does seem to have been used at the end.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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