NY1, a news channel serving New York City, recently televised a meeting of experts discussing the continued health concerns of residents and responders who worked near or at the World Trade Center site in the aftermath of 9/11.

According to panelists, government officials misled the public about the air quality at Ground Zero, failing to protect thousands of first responders and Lower Manhattan residents who have developed serious illnesses directly linked to exposure five years after the towers fell. A report released Tuesday by Mount Sinai Hospital noted that nearly 70 percent of first responders developed new or worsened respiratory symptoms after the attacks. Among those who had no health problems before 9/11, 61 percent developed symptoms after exposure.

“The urgency wasn’t there to get all workers to use masks to protect themselves from the fumes,” said Gerald Markowitz, co-author ofAre We Ready? Public Health Since 9/11. Markowitz and other panelists criticized federal agencies for not protecting workers and the public better.