On September 11, 2001, 2,602 people died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. That was only the beginning of the death toll, pain, and suffering. Over 100,000 people were immediately exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos, which can take up to 50 years to produce mesotheliomasymptoms, and over 670,000 New Yorkers may still be at risk for developing environmental illness.
Adding insult to injury, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) repeatedly tried to issue warnings which would have prompted emergency workers and others to protect themselves from airborne contaminants, but the White House Council on Environmental Quality removed the warnings from EPA press releases. In April, 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals issued a decision supporting this deception which will ultimately lead to far more deaths than the initial attack.
“The World Trade Center Cough”
Respiratory problems have plagued first responders since shortly after the day of the attacks. In fact, the effects are so common and well known that the medical community refers to it as “the World Trade Center Cough.” In April, 2007, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 62% of those caught in the dust cloud, and 46% of those not caught in the cloud but living or working in the area now suffer from respiratory problems. The Mount Sinai Medical Center’s World Trade Center health study found that 85% of its 70,000 participants suffer from respiratory problems. According to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF), over 100,000 people who were in the area when the towers collapsed are at risk for developingmesothelioma.
The first known mesothelioma death caused by 9/11
Emergency responder Deborah Reeve died in March, 2006, from mesothelioma which she developed as a direct result of being exposed to asbestos while helping to save the lives of others during the aftermath of 9/11. The symptoms of mesothelioma appeared in 2003, and she was diagnosed in 2004. Symptoms of mesothelioma normally do not appear for 10 – 50 years after asbestos exposure. Because Reeve became ill with the cancer so quickly, doctors believe she must have been exposed to massive amounts of asbestos. Her husband David says it best, “My wife got killed on September 11, and she didn’t die until March 15, 2006. She got killed and didn’t know.”
One volunteer saved his shirt to honor the fallen of 9/11 and has discovered that it may be key evidence of the high levels of asbestos rescue workers and citizens were truly exposed to in the first days after the attacks. Yehuda Kaploun worked at ground zero for about 48 hours immediately after the collapse. He saved the shirt he was wearing. In April, 2006, the New York Post reported that when a portion of that shirt was analyzed, it was found to contain 93,000 times the amount of chrysotile asbestos normally found in American cities.
Who is at risk and why?
Anyone who was in the area during and after the collapse of the towers may have been exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos. The contamination lasted for weeks or months after the collapse. First responders are among those known to be adversely affected, but they are not the only ones. People who lived and worked in the area, children going to school in the area, and anyone who happened to pass through, may have been affected. Even as tests were showing enormous amounts of asbestos in the air, officials were urging the public to return to the downtown area. It will be decades before we really know how many people will develop cancer due to 9/11 and the government’s cover-up of the asbestos contamination.
If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma or any respiratory illness which you believe may be due to exposure to airborne contaminants created during the tragedy of 9/11, contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney today.