It is hard to imagine that the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. may lose more lives to asbestos exposure than to the collapse of the buildings, but according to experts, it’s true.
When terrorists hijacked four commercial jets on September 11, 2001, and crashed them into the iconic buildings in New York and Washington, the nation was thrust into a period of extended grief for the thousands who were killed.
As weeks went by and the shock turned to analysis, environmental and health experts started warning that the health impact of the event would last for decades.
Experts knew that the asbestos released into the air as the buildings fell would have a devastating impact on those who were exposed to it.
According to a statement given by Dr. Michael Crane, medical director of the WTC Health Program, there have now been over 5,400 Ground Zero first responders, as well as citizens who lived, worked, or went to school near the Twin Towers, who have been diagnosed with cancer since the buildings fell. That number has tripled in the last two and a half years.
The victims have been diagnosed with 6,378 separate cancers, which means that some of them have been diagnosed with more than one type of cancer.
The conditions that have most frequently been diagnosed are prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. All have been at a much higher rate than would normally be expected.
One would think that mesothelioma would also be on that list, as it is specifically caused by exposure to asbestos. Yet, health experts say that because mesothelioma can take several decades after exposure before it begins to show symptoms, the number of cases caused by the 9/11 attacks is not likely to be fully realized for fifty years.
People who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma face a much-shortened life expectancy and need expensive medical treatments.
Those who lived and worked in the area of the World Trade Center have been provided with certain benefits in recognition of the danger that they were exposed to. However, for thousands of others who are victims of asbestos exposure as a result of negligence, no such benefits have been put in place.