On May 30th, New York City will unveil a new memorial to the thousands who were sickened and died of mesothelioma and other toxic dust-related illnesses following the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. Though most people associate the site with those who were lost on the day of the terrorist strike, there are far more victims than those who perished immediately: an estimated 10,000 first responders have been diagnosed with cancer, and over 2,000 people have died of 9/11-related illnesses over the years. The 9/11 Memorial Glade is designed to pay tribute and call attention to their continuing tragedy.
Toxic dust led to mesothelioma and other illnesses
When the World Trade Center fell after being struck by commercial jets, it spread jet fuel, asbestos, and other toxic materials throughout the atmosphere. Teams of workers who rushed in to find survivors and as part of the extensive recovery effort at Ground Zero inhaled that dust on a constant basis. Since that time, many have been diagnosed with a wide range of cancers, and it is anticipated that there are more to come. Of particular concern going forward is a rise in the diagnosis of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, as they tend to have longer latency periods and are not likely to appear as quickly as some of the other illnesses that have already been seen in those who worked on the scene.
Diagnoses and deaths expected to continue
In addition to fears of mesothelioma among those who worked at the World Trade Center, there are also worries about those who worked at the Pentagon: they too are being diagnosed with a variety of illnesses, both from exposure to asbestos and to other toxins, including jet fuel. According to Alice Greenwald, president and CEO of the 9// Memorial & Museum, “9/11 is not past history,” she said. “It’s very much present in their lives. We have to acknowledge the fact that 17½ years later, people are still suffering and dying.”
First responders and recovery workers are not the only ones who live in fear of mesothelioma and other illnesses. There are countless people who lived, worked and studied in Lower Manhattan who also breathed in the dust for months. Because there are so many who have been sickened and died, and so many more who may die in the future, the memorial will not bear any names. According to Bridget Gormley, whose firefighter father died of a 9/11 illness, “9/11 isn’t one day. It’s a historical event, yes, but a historical event that echoes into today.”
Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses take a terrible toll on those diagnosed, those who care for them, and those who survive them. For information on the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.