Today Americans pause to remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001, when terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., along with a failed attempt that downed a jetliner in a field in Pennsylvania, changed our nation forever. But as we stop to think of those who lost their lives on that day, the lingering effects of toxic debris at Ground Zero in New York continue to plague first responders and workers who cleared the debris. Many others also were exposed to toxins at the Pentagon and the plane crash site. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘9/11’
A memorial service is set for today, Feb. 21, 2012, for Dr. Stephen Levin, who was instrumental in addressing the needs of first responders and other workers whose health was negatively affected during the events of 9/11. Dr. Levin passed away Feb. 7 at age 70 at his home in Uppper Grandview, New York. The memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. ET at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Stern Auditorium, 1468 Madison Avenue at East 100th Street, New York, NY. (more…)
Earlier this month, in anticipation of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, The Lancet published a study of cancer risk in New York City firefighters who were first responders to Ground Zero at the World Trade Center (WTC). The study, conducted seven years after the attacks, was both the “first firefighter study on the effects of 9/11 and cancer, but it is also the largest firefighter cancer study ever done,” according to Dr. David J. Prezant, Chief Medical Officer at the NYFD and the lead author of the study. (more…)
In the wake of several new studies that indicate an increased risk of cancer among firefighters and others exposed to toxins at the World Trade Center site during 9/11, there is an outcry to include cancer among the conditions eligible for coverage by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. (more…)
Research conducted by the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), and published by The Lancet, provides evidence of an increased risk for cancers of all types among firefighters who were first responders on 9/11. The findings were released on Sept. 3, as American began to reflect on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. This particular study focused on rescue workers who responded to the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. (more…)
A study published today in The New England Journal of Medicine reveals that Fire Department of New York (FDNY) firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) workers who responded to the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center have suffered significant, persistent declines in lung functions. According to the report, exposure to World Trade Center dust created when the towers collapsed led to “large declines” in lung functions for FDNY rescue workers during the first year, and that “the declines were persistent, without recovery over the next 6 years, leaving a substantial proportion of workers with abnormal lung function.”
The study included 12,781 workers who were present at the WTC site between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 24, 2001, which is 91.6 percent of the workers that were present. The report notes that the event exposed the workers – as well as those living and working in the surrounding area – to a dense cloud of pulverized building materials and chemical byproducts, including pulverized glass and cement, insulation fibers including asbestos, and toxic chemicals.
According to a report in The New York Times that summarizes the study findings, this is the first study to document long-term harm in a large group of firefighters and emergency medical workers who worked at Ground Zero. All of the subjects of the study had had previous lung function tests, providing a baseline for the study.
The study was authored by Dr. David J. Prezant, chief medical officer in the Office of Medical Affairs at the New York City Fire Department. The study was approved by the institutional review board at Montefiore Medical Center.
Results of the study revealed that firefighters, who had heavier exposure to dust by the nature of their work had greater first-year declines than EMS personnel, especially for firefighters who were present in the morning on 9/11, when the dust cloud was most intense after the buildings fell. However, researchers noted they were surprised to see “little or no recovery of average lung function during the 6-year follow-up period.” In fact, they noted continued decline in lung function among the study groups.
Normally, the study notes, “smoke inhalation during firefighting causes relatively mild and reversible respiratory impairment.” Additionally, according to the report, long-term effects of firefighting on pulmonary function also are normally mild.
Thousands of workers injured at Ground Zero have been fighting for compensation from the City of New York. Last month about 10,000 plaintiffs reached a settlement agreement totaling $657.5 million, but a judge rejected the settlement shortly afterward, saying it did not provide enough compensation for the plaintiffs. The matter is now back in negotiations, and a new hearing is set for Monday, according to the Times.
A story published by the New York Times reports thousands of rescue and cleanup workers who were exposed to the toxic air at Ground Zero after the 9/11 tragedy at the World Trade Center have reached a settlement agreement with the city over damage to their health. According to the Times, the city has agreed to pay out up to $657.5 million to about 10,000 plaintiffs in the case.
The settlement agreement has been in the works for about two years, taking place among a great deal of confusion and disagreement about the city’s responsibility for injured workers. The city had claimed it was immune because injuries occurred during a national emergency or civil defense situation. However, injured workers and their families argued they were employed by the city and entitled to compensation as they would be for any injury incurred on the job.
According to the Times report, 95 percent of the plaintiffs in this case must accept the terms of the settlement for it to take effect. Each plaintiff’s case will then be examined individually to determine how much compensation that person will receive, which lawyers estimate could run anywhere from a few thousand dollars to as much as $1 million. Individual compensation will depend on the severity of illness and level of exposure to contaminants at the World Trade Center site.
A variety of health screening and tracking programs were established in the days and months following the September 11 tragedy. Workers and others who simply lived and worked near the disaster site began complaining of a variety of illnesses, especially respiratory problems. There is an official World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program, as well as studies conducted by the New York Fire Department and other organizations.
Some health problems presented immediately following exposure to the site, such as respiratory distress, while others are only just showing up in those who worked at the site. It is now known that the Ground Zero site was contaminated with asbestos at levels at least two times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s “safe” level. Because of the long latency period between exposure to asbestos and the development of mesothelioma – an average of between 10 and 50 years – the true effect of asbestos exposure may not be known for years to come.
Some of the plaintiffs involved in the current settlement are not yet ill, but fear they will develop illnesses in the future as a result of their exposure to the toxins like asbestos. According to the Times, the settlement provides a $23.4 million insurance policy to cover possible future claims.
Today, millions of Americans turned their thoughts to where they were and what they were doing on this date eight years ago, when they heard of the terrorist strike on the World Trade Center in New York City. They mourn for loved ones lost in the attacks, and gather their resolve to pull together as a nation as we did in the days following the attacks. But for many, the horror, the fear and the dying continues. For the brave first responders, who arrived while the buildings burned and stayed through their collapse and through the heartbreaking months that followed during cleanup, the disaster has created lingering illness, debilitating respiratory diseases and cancers including mesothelioma.
A CBS News investigative report spoke with individuals and families coping with this second disaster, a disaster that robs them and their loved ones of health and quality of life. Rescue workers, very few wearing any type of special gear, toiled day after day in dusty clouds of toxins including asbestos, jet fuel, mercury, lead and pulverized cement and glass. According to the CBS News report, health officials say such multi-chemical exposure as these workers experienced is “unprecedented.”
A variety of health screening and tracking programs were established in the days and months following 9/11/2001, when workers and even people who simply lived and worked near the disaster site began complaining of a variety of illnesses, particularly respiratory distress. To date, according to the CBS report, about 43,000 people have been physically screened for 9/11-related health issues, 28,000 are participating in the official World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program, and an additional 18,000 people in a similar program operated by the New York Fire Department.
Many 9/11 responders are angry, saying they have to wade through mounds of regulations, restrictions and other roadblocks to fight for access to care and compensation. Many who die are not classified as technically having died “in the line of duty,” and their families are denied those benefits.
Physicians say it is difficult to definitively link health conditions to 9/11 exposures because of the wide variety of toxins present on the site, and the varying levels of exposure among workers to amounts and types of chemicals and other substances. Some trouble signs presented immediately, such as respiratory distress, while others, such as immune system cancer multiple myeloma, and colon cancer, are now showing up in responders age 45 and younger.
Some diseases could take even longer to develop. Mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen and/or heart, is a result of asbestos exposure. It is now known that the 9/11 site was contaminated with asbestos at levels at least two times higher then the EPA’s “safe” level. The latency period for mesothelioma averages between 10 and 50 years, so the effect of this asbestos exposure may not be known for years to come.
How tragic that one of the most tragic days in recent American history should be borne the hardest by those who were bravest, those who dedicated their lives to caring for their fellow man, who rushed into the danger zone while others rushed away. My heart goes out to these brave souls, and I pray that they are not forgotten.
There is a link below to the comprehensive CBS News report about this. There is a wealth of information at this site, including video interviews with 9/11 responders, medical reports about 9/11 health issues, and links to resources and information about World Trade Center responder health programs and studies. I urge you to add a comment at the CBS web site voicing your support for more programs to help these brave folks.
Source: CBS News
Yesterday I shared some information about the health effects on those who were exposed to the toxic dust and fumes from the World Trade Center collapse on September 11, 2001. Last night, the Sundance Channel aired a documentary, Dust to Dust: The Health Effects of 9/11, by Heidi Dehncke-Fisher, that explores the health effects particularly on the first responders – firefighters, police officers, emergency medical personnel – and their fight to make the public aware of the danger they were exposed to at the site.
Experts say there will be long-term health effects as a result of the exposure to toxic chemicals, including mesothelioma and other serious respiratory diseases, cancer, asthma, kidney disease, heart disease and more.
The documentary says more than 2,500 different contaminants were released in the collapse, including more than 400 tons of asbestos, 90 thousand liters of jet fuel (cancer causing Benzine); lead, cadmium and mercury, which can severely impact the kidneys, PCBs, PAHs and crystalline silica.
Watch the documentary.
As the nation reflects on the tragic attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, there is lingering and growing concern about the dangers of asbestos exposure at the World Trade Center “Ground Zero.” First responders and people who live nearby were exposed to tons of asbestos when the twin towers collapsed, along with smoke, chemicals and other debris.
According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygeine, the EPA collected and analyzed close to 5,000 samples for airborne asbestos in lower Manhattan between Sept. 11, 2001 and Jan. 22, 2002. Thirty-one of the samples collected prior to Sept. 30, 2001 indicated asbestos in excess of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) standard, as did four other samples collected on four other dates during the testing period.
At the time, the health department assured the public that they did not expect brief exposures to low levels of airborne asbestos to create long-term health effects.
However, the National Cancer Institute states that people with only brief exposure to asbestos are at risk for the development of asbestos diseases including asbestosis and mesothelioma. They cite a study titled Environmental Health Perspectives, published in 2006, that examined results of a five-year assessment of the health of workers. Results of the program, called the World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program, noted that nearly 70 percent of World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers suffered new or worsened respiratory systems while performing work at the WTC site.
In 2002, the Center for Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the New York City Health Department established the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Registry, hoping to monitor the health of those exposed to the WTC disaster. The program plans to follow up with enrollees for the next 20 years, and will examine both physical and mental health.
The Registry includes 71,437 participants, including rescue and recovery workers, Lower Manhattan residents, area workers, commuters and passerby. The voluntary program was open to anyone who lived, worked or went to school in the area of the WTC disaster, or were involved in rescue and recovery efforts. It is the largest public health registry in U.S. history, but registered particpants still only comprise about 17.4 percent of the people who would have been eligible to participate, program officials estimate.
According to the report, released yesterday, half the registrants reported being in the dust cloud from the collapsing towers; 70 percent witnessed a traumatic sight; and 13 percent sustained an injury that day. The reports says 3 percent of all adults in the program reported they have developed new asthma, 16 percent had post-traumatic stress disorder, and 8 percent have severe psychological distress.
The report finds that first responders – rescue and recovery workers who worked on the debris pile – have the highest rate of new asthma, at 6 percent.
Additionally, examining the health of participants two to three years after the event revealed 3 percent of Lower Manhattan adult residents and workers had developed asthma – twice what is believed to be the baseline rate of development of asthma over that period.
The Health Department has issued a follow-up survey that examined program participants’ health issues five to six years after the 9/11 attack, and expect to release those findings in the next few months.
Additionally, since the attacks of Sept. 11, the New York State Department of Health has been collecting information about the deaths among World Trade Center responders, recovery workers and volunteers – no matter how or why the death occurred – through its World Trade Center (WTC) Responder Fatality Investigation. It is hoped the data will help track and identify all fatalities and allow the department to analyze the root causes.
As of June 2008, the program has identified 382 people who worked a the WTC site and have since passed away, and has confirmed 204 causes of death. The report states that 30 of those people have died of respiratory and intrathoracic organ disease, making up 19.4 percent of the overall confirmed deaths. Twenty-six of the deaths, or 16.8 percent, were specifically related to lung disease.