The September 11, 2001 tragedy took many lives, and a huge effort on the part of first responders made a big impact on many lives. Unfortunately, many of the first responders were exposed to toxins that could cause cancers and other illnesses. One potential hazard that first responders might face is Mesothelioma.
The NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) added 50 cancers including Mesothelioma to the 2010 Zadroga Act. The fund was specifically set up to help people who responded to the 9/11 disaster, and have since contracted illnesses and diseases related to exposures from the catastrophe. The $4.3 billion fund will cover expenses and medical bills for those who need it. There were many cancers that were not on the list until June of this year. Mesothelioma was one of the types of cancer added to the list following a dust and debris analysis performed by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The report following the analysis noted that Asbestos was one of the many types of hazardous dust and debris found in the samples from the 9/11 disaster.
It is believed that approximately 400 tons of Asbestos were used to build the World Trade Center in the 1970’s. At the time of the explosion, Asbestos dust exposure was not a primary concern. However, it is now coming to light due to issues that are arising with first responders who worked during the 9/11 disaster. Once Asbestos dust is inhaled, it can trigger changes in the body that have been known to surface up to 40 years after the initial exposure.
The World Trade Center Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, which consists of 15 members, advised Dr. John Howard, the NIOSH Director, to add Mesothelioma to the list of covered conditions. They based this decision on the fact that Asbestos dust was found in the debris that first responders entered into in an effort to save lives during the 9/11 disaster.
Many people responded without hesitation to the 9/11 disaster including police officers, EMS workers, doctors, nurses, paramedics, fire fighters, and many more. To date, there have been no Mesothelioma cases reported related to 9/11. However, the committee believes that adding Mesothelioma is necessary due to the amount of Asbestos exposure that occurred during rescue efforts. It is believed that rescuers may come forward in years to come who are suffering from Mesothelioma. One complication that may become evident is that rescuers suffering from cancer related to 9/11 may not get any compensation, because the deadline for filing claims is just 2 years away. It is likely that Mesothelioma could present many years from now, and responders will not be diagnosed by the time the deadline comes around.