Deadly Chemicals in Air After Attack on WTC

Lower Manhattan 9-11 Crash Site smoldering

Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Immediately after the attack, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christie Whitman announced that New Yorkers need not worry about breathing in the dust-filled air. People were told that the air was safe and free of toxic chemicals. This was not true. People began to come down with illnesses soon thereafter and untold numbers have died as a result. It was not until 2011 that the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act began, which gives support to 21,000 victims of the toxic, dangerous air caused by the 9/11 attack. It took an additional two years (until 2013) for the list of 50 different types cancer to be added to the diseases that were eligible for compensation. If you or a loved one has become ill from dangerous air exposure to the 9/11 attacks, you may be able to receive compensation under the Zadroga Act. Contact an experienced New York World Trade Center attorney to learn more.


Types of Toxic Chemicals and Air Pollutants

The range of diseases and conditions caused by air pollution that victims of the 9/11 attacks suffer from are vast. Below is a list of toxic chemicals and pollutants and the resulting conditions they are linked to:



Asbestos is one of the most well-known and deadly substances that was released into the air on 9/11. Approximately 300 to 400 tons of asbestos went into Manhattan’s air for firefighters, police, paramedics, and thousands of civilians to breathe. Asbestos causes mesothelioma, which is a cancer that affects the lungs, abdomen, and chest cavity. It can cause scarring of the lungs, thickening of the membrane surrounding the lungs, and pooling fluid between the lungs and chest cavity. Asbestos is linked to the following types of cancer, but more study is needed for confirmation:

  • Gastrointestinal tract cancer
  • Throat cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Bladder cancer and
  • Larynx (voice box) cancer



Heavy or long term benzene exposure can lead to leukemia, a decrease in red blood cells, which leads to anemia, damages to bone marrow, excessive bleeding, and damage to the immune system, which causes increased risk of infection.



Lead exposure has a long list of complications, the most concerning being learning difficulties in children, damage to the kidneys and nervous system, seizures, unconsciousness, and death.

Other toxic and harmful substances include fiberglass and mercury. Not all exposures lead to cancer. Thousands of first responders and locals suffer from breathing problems, sinus issues, and other life-long, and often worsening-over-time, health conditions. If you or a loved one became ill due to the dangerous air quality after 9/11, give one of our experienced New York World Trade Center attorneys a call today at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. It can be incredibly difficult to acquire the funds necessary to treat the respiratory illness associated with the 9/11 attacks, which is why hiring an aggressive, experienced attorney is so vital. We can be reached at 212-397-1000 and are here to help you in this time of need.