There is overwhelming evidence that people who were among the emergency response crews to the 9/11 disaster, and people who live and work in the neighborhood of the World Trade Center site have suffered enormously high rates of respiratory difficulties. The near-term symptoms of these diseases include coughing, wheezing, reduced lung capacity and other pulmonary abnormalities.
Approximately 40,000 people were either first responders to the disaster or were involved in the subsequent search for survivors and remains, and the site cleanup that followed. Virtually all of them were exposed to caustic dust and toxic pollutants in the process. There is concern in the medical community that the continuing symptoms of lung-related disease or injury could lead to development of malignancies such as mesothelioma, the lethal lung cancer directly connected to asbestos exposure.
In order to monitor World Trade Center related health problems the WTC Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program was established by the State of New York, OSHA and several New York are medical institutions. According to their data, “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.” – Environmental Health Perspectives, December 2006.
That is an extremely high percentage of continuing symptoms among a large group of WTC responders. Long term effects of the assortment of respiratory afflictions that persist for these tens of thousands of individuals are unknown. Also not known is how many New Yorkers who suffered exposure from the dust generated by the wreckage have yet to come forward with evidence of the many diseases that can be caused by toxic inhalants. What is known is that cancer such as mesothelioma can take decades to develop after the victim’s initial exposure to lung pollutants.
There are groups of WTC respiratory victims who have begun to petition the government for some sort of support in the cases of those who have been incapacitated by World Trade Center diseases. Support groups are active in the New York area, and some victims have already made the journey to Washington seeking federal relief.
The legal rights of those who exposed themselves to potentially lethal air pollutants remain to be established. However if you feel your health has been impacted by pollutants from the World Trade Center wreckage, consult an attorney to learn what the latest developments are in this growing public health controversy.