Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives when four passenger jets were hijacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001. Two jets collided with the North and South towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) complex in New York City and another crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. A third jet crashed outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers retaliated and attempted to take control from the hijackers. Now, more than a decade after the initial attacks, first responders, clean-up workers and people who were living in the Ground Zero area are still suffering. Some are experiencing serious, life-threatening health problems caused by their exposure to toxins at or near the WTC collision site.
Asbestos, along with 69 other carcinogens (cancer-causing substances), has been identified by the WTC Health Program Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee as being present in the cocktail of substances that were released into the environment when the North and South towers fell. When the towers collapsed, a cloud of dust, debris and fumes covered Lower Manhattan. Rising more than 1,000 feet into the air, it littered dust all over the region, where it settled as thick as three inches in some places. It covered everything in sight, coating everyone and everything in the area. It entered ventilation systems and found its way into apartments, homes and businesses through windows, doors and any other means. People living, working and going to school in the area could not escape its presence. For people who participated in the rescue, debris removal and clean-up efforts at the WTC site, ingestion and inhalation of these dangerous substances was virtually unavoidable.
More than ten years have passed since the towers fell, and mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, respiratory disorders and a host of other health problems are now in presenting themselves as a result of exposure to asbestos and the other hazardous substances that were released in New York City, Arlington and Shanksville.
Asbestos in the World Trade Center Buildings
No one knows for certain just how much asbestos was present in the WTC towers when they collapsed, though some estimates place it at approximately 400 tons. The use of asbestos in spray fireproofing was banned in New York City in 1971, while WTC construction was still underway. At that time, insulating material containing asbestos had been sprayed up to the 64th floor of the towers. Another type of insulating material was used for the remaining floors.
It is estimated that as many as 110,000 people may have been exposed to asbestos from the World Trade Center towers, including tower workers, local residents and first responders. In addition to this initial exposure, clean-up workers may have suffered from continued exposure. In the haste to remove debris, proper precautionary measures were not taken to protect workers from asbestos exposure. Standard asbestos abatement procedures were not followed.
The Zadroga Act: Offering Hope to Mesothelioma Patients
Recognizing the need to provide financial and medical assistance to those suffering from 9/11 health problems, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act (Zadroga Act) was signed into law on January 2, 2011. This Act re-opened the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, which was created shortly after the terrorist attacks to provide financial compensation to victims and their families, and established the WTC Health Program, which provides free medical monitoring and treatment to responders and survivors. Though cancer, including mesothelioma, was not initially included in the Zadroga Act when it was passed in 2011, some 50 different forms of cancer were officially included on September 10, 2012. Mesothelioma was among these.
At Napoli Shkolnik PLLC we handle mesothelioma lawsuits and Zadroga Act claims for those who were exposed to asbestos at the World Trade Center, Shanksville and Pentagon collision sites. Contact a mesothelioma lawyer at our firm for a free consultation.