Asbestos from 9/11 Still Making People Sick
Another September 11th has come and gone. People stopped what they were doing to watch replays of planes hitting towers, posted poignant memes on their Facebook pages, and visited memorials or participated in peace-related church services.
Families who lost loved ones in the towers, at the Pentagon, or in that field in Pennsylvania paused to remember their loved ones and no doubt shed more than a few tears.
But how many Americans realize that there are still people dying because of Sept. 11th? It’s true. Many who served as police officers, emergency responders, firefighters, and rescue and recovery personnel are sick – 17 years after they worked at Ground Zero. And asbestos has been one of the biggest factors in their failing health.
The first 9/11 victim of asbestos-related disease was Deborah Reeve, an EMT who died of mesothelioma in 2006. Her death came just 5 ½ years after she worked at the site of the World Trade Center tragedy.
Reeve inhaled so much asbestos that she almost immediately developed a disease that usually takes decades to appear. She was otherwise young and healthy before she was diagnosed with asbestos-caused cancer and she died at age 41, leaving a husband and small children behind.
Today, others who inhaled asbestos – though maybe not as much as Reeve – are finding that they have mesothelioma or some other related disease, such as asbestosis, pleural plaques, or another form of cancer.
They no doubt knew that the time could potentially come when they would suffer the same fate as Reeve, though they hoped they were wrong.
Thankfully, there is health monitoring and financial aid available to the first responders, volunteers, and survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks via the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, which was recently extended to cover the next 75 years.
The act was named for an NYPD officer who died in the same manner as Reeve – that is, due to exposure to toxins from his work at Ground Zero.
It allows first responders to keep track of what’s going on with their health, all free of charge.
But while monitoring will hopefully help catch problems early, exposure to asbestos means none of these individuals will ever be completely healthy again.
The use of asbestos in the Twin Towers and other buildings in the vicinity of the blasts will kill many other individuals in the next 30 to 40 years or beyond.
No one knows who the victims will be and how many of them will die. For these people, it’s just a sad “wait and see”.