February 18, 2008
Those clouds of dust that enveloped thousands of New Yorkers who were near the World Trade Center’s destruction and who participated in the rescue efforts may be another large group of victims exposed to the cancerous effects of asbestos. Mesothelioma is a deadly form of lung cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos, usually in the form of dust or tiny fibers that get into the respiratory system.
There was an enormous amount of asbestos in the debris left by the 9/11 disaster; moreover, it has become evident that the dust raised on 9/11 and during subsequent rescue and cleanup efforts was contaminated with asbestos. One citizen who participated in rescue efforts for 48 hours after the towers fell saved the shirt that he was wearing throughout that period. In April of 2006 the New York Post reported that when the shirt’s fabric was tested, it was found to contain 93,000 times the amount of asbestos normally found in American cities.
In April of 2007, the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 62% of those caught in the dust cloud created on 9/11 are now incurring respiratory problems. 46% of those merely living in the area are showing similar symptoms. It is clear that the airborne debris created by the destruction on 9/11 has had health impacts on thousands of people. It is also clear that asbestos was a component of that dust.
Mesothelioma often takes decades to develop after the victim’s exposure to asbestos. However studies done on the first responders to the towers’ collapse show an overwhelming pattern of respiratory difficulties. There have been some cases that have already become the fatal impact of asbestos exposure — mesothelioma.
If you had any involvement with 9/11 rescue or cleanup efforts live in the area and you are suffering from respiratory problems, get a thorough physical workup from your doctor and contact an attorney about compensation for this deadly exposure.
A Comprehensive Consumer Resource Concerning Asbestos & Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma Watch is committed to providing up-to-date information about asbestos and more importantly mesothelioma. We believe that knowledge is power and that that the materials provided here can and will help those in need.
The World Trade Center Disaster and the Health of Workers: Five-Year Assessment of a Unique Medical Screening Program
BACKGROUND: Approximately 40,000 rescue and recovery workers were exposed to caustic dust and
toxic pollutants following the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC).
These workers included traditional first responders, such as firefighters and police, and a diverse
population of construction, utility, and public sector workers.
METHODS: To characterize WTC-related health effects, the WTC Worker and Volunteer Medical
Screening Program was established. This multicenter clinical program provides free standardized
examinations to responders. Examinations include medical, mental health, and exposure assessment
questionnaires; physical examinations; spirometry; and chest X rays.
RESULTS: Of 9,442 responders examined between July 2002 and April 2004, 69% reported new or
worsened respiratory symptoms while performing WTC work. Symptoms persisted to the time of
examination in 59% of these workers. Among those who had been asymptomatic before
September 11, 61% developed respiratory symptoms while performing WTC work. Twenty-eight
percent had abnormal spirometry; forced vital capacity (FVC) was low in 21%; and obstruction was
present in 5%. Among nonsmokers, 27% had abnormal spirometry compared with 13% in the
general U.S. population. Prevalence of low FVC among nonsmokers was 5-fold greater than in the
U.S. population (20% vs. 4%). Respiratory symptoms and spirometry abnormalities were significantly
associated with early arrival at the site.
CONCLUSION: WTC responders had exposure-related increases in respiratory symptoms and pulmonary
function test abnormalities that persisted up to 2.5 years after the attacks. Long-term medical
monitoring is required to track persistence of these abnormalities and identify late effects, including
possible malignancies. Lessons learned should guide future responses to civil disasters.
KEY WORDS: air pollution, disaster response, occupational lung disease, pulmonary function,
September 11, spirometry, World Trade Center. Environ Health Perspect 114:1853–1858 (2006).
doi:10.1289/ehp.9592 available via http://dx.doi.org/ [Online 6 September 2006]