For many of us, the number of those who perished on September 11, 2001 sticks in our minds, even 15 years later. It was 2,996. Nearly 3,000 lost souls on that fateful day. For those who lived through it, it’s a day we’ll never forget.
Some say it’s the Kennedy assassination of this generation. Everyone remembers where they were when the first plane hit the Towers and when the first tower came tumbling to the ground. Many of us refuse to relive those moments, turning off the television whenever the media decides it’s time to rehash the tragedy.
But some individuals have no choice but to relive those moments each and every day, namely because they have been physically affected by their involvement in the goings on of that horrible day.
The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), established by the Zadroga Act, notes that they have seen and/or treated more than 5,000 individuals who have Sept. 11-related cancer issues (though a whopping 74,000 have joined the program).
These are the most dedicated heroes of the day – the firefighters, EMTs, police, and other rescue and recovery workers.
Different kinds of cancer have appeared among these hardworking individuals and, thankfully, the WTCHP covers many of them including blood-related cancers, female breast and ovarian cancer, head and neck cancers, skin cancer, thyroid cancer, and a number of others, including mesothelioma.
All are most likely related to the toxic debris left behind after the Towers (and Pentagon) fell. For example, experts hypothesize that some 400 tons of asbestos debris littered the streets of New York City, and much of it stayed around for weeks or even months.
That meant inhalation of toxic asbestos dust was almost unavoidable for anyone who worked on rescue and recovery tasks, especially in the early hours and days when many worked without the benefit of proper protective gear.
Though some first responders were diagnosed with various cancers within just the first few years after the event, it took longer for the disease to show up in other first responders. Of course, many forms of cancer develop more quickly than others.
Mesothelioma, however, usually takes several decades to appear, though the concentration of asbestos was so great at the WTC site that one EMT died of this aggressive cancer only 5 years after that terrible day.
Others have succumbed to mesothelioma since then and, still, many are in a “wait and see” mode, worrying constantly that they may be the next victim.
As a matter of fact, mesothelioma experts predict that they will see a surge in diagnoses of the disease in about 5 years, or 20 years after Sept. 11, 2001. The 9/11 asbestos threat is a ticking time bomb. Because of this, it is likely that 9/11-related asbestos lawsuits may climb in the next several years as well as victims recognize the need for compensation for their injuries.