9/11 Attacks and Asbestos Exposure

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The 9/11 attacks will be remembered throughout history. The effects of these attacks have resulted in a world far different than it was just before the tragic incidents. Everyone is familiar with the subsequent wars and military actions, however, what many do not know are the health issues associated with these attacks.

A Toxic Cloud

When the World Trade Center buildings collapsed the resultant dust cloud that formed was filled with countless numbers of deadly particles and gasses. These floated around for weeks, even months at Ground Zero. An area of several square miles was blanketed by a powder of pulverized remains of non-metallic components and parts of the Towers, including significant amounts of asbestos. Three days after the attacks, an analysis of the dust found that four percent of the dust was asbestos.

Those most affected by these toxins were onsite victims and first responders. After the buildings fell, the cloud and gasses were at their highest concentration. First responders in Manhattan are at an elevated risk of developing certain diseases from being in close contact with the toxins in the air.

Health Effects of Asbestos Exposure

Principally, mesothelioma is a main concern. Linked to asbestos, one of the toxins found in the dust, mesothelioma is an aggressive lung cancer with a latency period of 20 to 50 years. Since the latency period of this cancer spans decades, it might not be another few decades before those at Ground Zero notice symptoms of the disease.  The prognosis for mesothelioma is usually fatality within one year of detection. In most cases, by the time the cancer is detected, it is too late to engage in curative procedures.  Since it is not usually diagnosed until 20 to 50 years after the exposure, conventional treatments for it are often ineffective.

However, the ability to treat any disease is often determined by how early it is discovered. Regular monitoring is an effective battle against future problems with mesothelioma and other respiratory illnesses caused by asbestos. Anyone who even suspects having asbestos exposure should get a check- up. Those in the NYC area during the 9/11 attacks are especially cautioned to keep a close eye on their health.

911 Research – Environment

911 Research — Asbestos

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