Why Did 9/11 Survivors Get Lung Cancer After the Incident?

By  //  March 21, 2022

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On September 11, 2001, 19 extremists hijacked four airplanes and flew two of them into the World Trade Center in New York City. Almost 3,000 people were killed. But the tragic loss of life didn’t stop there. The attacks foreshadowed decades of illness and death linked directly to the collapse of the two towers.  

Long after the debris was cleared away, first responders, area citizens, and survivors began developing a range of health problems associated with the disaster. Thousands of respiratory problems and lung cancer cases have been linked back to debris formed when the buildings collapsed. The health impact was so severe that the World Trade Center Health Program was created to provide 9/11 responders and survivors with medical monitoring and treatments.

A Toxic Cloud Poisoned Thousands 

As the Twin Towers collapsed, a massive cloud of debris formed and shrouded the area, covering lower Manhattan. Light dust reached as far as the Empire State Building, nearly three miles away. The cloud was a toxic brew containing numerous poisons, including mercury, cadmium, and cancer-causing manufactured chemicals. 

The World Trade Center plume, also called WTC dust, contained cement dust combined with deadly asbestos and chemicals. More than 400,000 residents and 100,000 responders were covered in and breathed this terrible stew as it remained in the air for more than three months. 

Some victims became ill quickly, but many gradually developed respiratory problems and were eventually diagnosed with lung cancer. Hundreds were terminal, and thousands have lived with their disease, unable to work or live life to the fullest. Many have turned to legal experts like Hansen and Rosasco, LLP for help getting compensation for their illness and lifestyle limitations.

Why The Plume Contained Asbestos 

The link between asbestos and cancer is well-documented today, and its use is strictly prohibited in many places. But that wasn’t the case 50 years ago. According to Asbestos.com, the Twin Towers were constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, when builders routinely used asbestos.

It made construction materials stronger and more heat resistant. As a result, various asbestos-containing products were built into both of the Twin Towers. For example, steel beams in the first 40 floors of the north tower were coated with spray-on asbestos material. 

9/11 and Lung Cancer

Since the event, several forms of cancer have been linked to the 9/11 debris. However, they often developed over time. Two years after the initial exposure, lung cancer became one of the most common cancer types associated with WTC Dust. Doctors discovered that large particles of asbestos cement and various burned materials lodged in victims’ lungs, and their bodies could not cope, leading to disease. As more cases appeared, lung cancer was added to the illnesses covered by the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. 

Health Issues Aren’t Limited to Cancer 

In addition to various types of cancer, people affected by the debris cloud developed other chronic conditions. According to The Conversation, many who suffered initially from chronic coughs later developed respiratory diseases that include COPD, asthma, chronic rhinosinusitis, nasopharyngitis, and laryngitis. 

Over 20 years, victims have continued to deal with a range of health conditions linked to their respiratory issues. Several have developed mesothelioma, cancer that is related to asbestos exposure.  

The tragedy of the 9/11 attacks is still unfolding today. In addition to the thousands who died immediately or since due to illness, thousands still suffer from lung cancer caused by exposure to the WTC debris cloud. Many have turned to attorneys for help in getting compensation.