Dozens of mariner rescue workers suffer from 9/11-related diseases

11 Sep 2018 by under News
9 11 Ground Zero burning debris asbestos workers 300x197 Dozens of mariner rescue workers suffer from 9/11 related diseases

New York, N.Y. (Sept. 14, 2001) — Days after a Sep. 11 terrorist attack, fires still burn amidst the rubble of the World Trade Center. U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Jim Watson. (RELEASED)

Thomas Phelan was working as captain of a Statue of Liberty ferry on when the World Trade Center towers burned to the ground sending a toxic cloud over New York City. His tour boat quickly became a rescue vessel that day, helping to evacuate between 500,000 and a million people away from the devastation and bring supplies, water and emergency workers to lower Manhattan. The massive boat lift involved about 125 ferries, tugs, Coast Guard vessels and pleasure boats, and became the largest maritime evacuation in history.

Phelan’s life was spared that day, but the more than eight hours he spent saving others exposed him to toxic smoke from the burning buildings and debris that contained carcinogens like lead and mercury, chemicals, asbestos, benzene, and jet fuel.

Asbestos exposure causes serious illnesses including lung cancer and , a rare but deadly form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs and other internal organs. It can take years and even decades for asbestos cancer to develop. Once diagnosed, it usually proves lethal in a matter of months.

Phelan was diagnosed with lung cancer in February and died just two months later, in March, at the age of 45. His cancer is believed to be related to exposure to 9/11 debris.

Phelan isn’t the only mariner to suffer effects of 9/11 years after the attacks. At least 120 ferry captains, deckhands and mates are registered with the federal World Trade Center Health Program, which provides funding for those with one of dozens of 9/11-related illnesses.

“Based on accumulated knowledge and medical science, occupational medicine physicians have now learned that, for many responders, WTC-related physical and mental conditions are likely to be permanent,” the WTC program states. “Sadder still, new patients are still being seen who haven’t been evaluated before or treated.”

Source: Workboat

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