Death Toll Still Rising 15 Years After 9/11, Asbestos Diseases Expected To Increase

The death toll resulting from the September 11, 2001, attacks in NYC still continue to grow 15 years later, after countless people breathed in excessive amounts of asbestos and other toxins while trying to work in Ground Zero debris, to save as many lives as possible (while risking their own).

fireman asbestos

Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave clearance the“public in these areas [lower Manhattan] are not being exposed to excessive levels of asbestos or other harmful substances,” it seems as if they statement was given prematurely.  EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman even suggested that the air was safe and the water was safe to drink, when in actuality, that was far from the truth.

According to Dr. Crane, leader of Mt. Sinai’s World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), over 40% of the 65,000 people he treats, who helped during 9/11, are now living with chronic, life-threatening illnesses, including asbestos-related illnesses such as malignant mesothelioma.

“Forty-three percent of these workers and community members are afflicted with chronic, exposure-related conditions…..It’s been steady for at least the last year and a half ― we’re seeing new people here being certified for cancer 10-15 times week.”

According to Pat Morrison of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), mesothelioma in particular is a “certified 9/11-related health condition,” yet, since its latency can last up to 50 years, it’s still not as well-known as other dangerous illnesses. What this means for Ground Zero workers is that the beginnings of the disease are just now starting to surface for some, while others may not realize they’ve developed an asbestos illnesses until decades from now.

Crane indicated that a good number of volunteers who helped out on Ground Zero still haven’t been checked out by doctor, and it could be because they’re not experiencing any asbestos-related symptoms yet. It may also be due to numerous people traveling to Manhattan from out of state, and their primary doctors aren’t looking for asbestos illnesses because they aren’t associating their patients with Ground Zero.  According to Crane,

“There’s still a good chunk of folks out there who responded to the event and most likely have not been seen by anybody yet.”

Sadly, it’s not just 9/11 that’s caused an alarming number of people to develop asbestos illnesses. Firefighters, in particular, have an extremely high rate of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos illnesses. A recent study performed by the OSHA indicated that “firefighters in the study had a rate of mesothelioma two times greater than the rate in the U.S. population as a whole.”

Yet, even with a wealth of information on how dangerous asbestos is, it still remains legal in the U.S. Fortunately, there is now more hope than ever that the known carcinogen will one day be banned, thanks to the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. The Lautenberg Act reforms the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which hasn’t been updated in 40 years. Part of the reform includes giving the EPA more power to test and band dangerous chemicals and substances.

Asbestos was the primary the reason President Obama signed the reform to begin with. According to the president,

“The system was so complex, so burdensome that our country hasn’t even been able to uphold a ban on asbestos –a known carcinogen that kills as many as 10,000 Americans every year. I think a lot of Americans would be shocked by that.”

In the meantime, it’s crucial for anyone who helped out during 9/11 to seek out routine, medical check-ups. Always tell your physician that there’s a possibility that you’ve been exposed to asbestos. This is especially true for anyone who doesn’t live in the New York area.

Additional Help and Resources for Asbestos Victims

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Fill out our form to receive our free Financial Compensation Packet. Our packet is loaded with information on leading mesothelioma attorneys in your area, how to file a claim for asbestos trust funds, how to get paid in 90 days, and more. 

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